Congress, Trump Working to Repair Broken U.S.-Israel Relationship

In letter, lawmakers ask Trump to fix relations with Jewish state, move embassy

Jerusalem skyline at night / AP
January 19, 2017

Congress has begun laying the groundwork to help the incoming Trump administration repair the long fractured relationship with Israel, an effort that includes moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, according to a copy obtained by the Washington Free Beacon of the first official congressional communication scheduled to be sent next week to President Donald Trump.

A delegation of more than 75 lawmakers, led by Rep. Bill Johnson (R., Ohio), have written to Trump, urging him to "mend this relationship [with Israel] immediately," according to an advanced copy of the letter exclusively viewed by the Free Beacon.

The letter lays the groundwork for Trump to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and is likely to be accompanied by the formation of a new pro-Israel caucus in Congress that will focus on making this a reality, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Trump repeatedly pledged on the campaign trail that he would move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

As the first official congressional communication to President Trump, the letter highlights the anger in Congress surrounding the Obama administration's last minute bid to seek United Nations action condemning Israel. Repairing the U.S.-Israel relationship has become priority number one to a large faction of GOP leaders, sources said.

The lawmakers lay out five key priorities to help strengthen U.S.-Israel ties under the Trump administration, according to the letter.

They include:

  • "Signaling the Palestinian Authority to give up their goal of destroying Israel and accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish State"
  • "Ending incitement and violence against Israel and Jews promoted by the Palestinian Authority"
  • "Reversing, to whatever extent possible, one-sided United Nations resolutions harmful to Israel and to Judaism"
  • "Moving our embassy, currently located in Tel Aviv, to Jerusalem as soon as practicable, consistent with 'The Jerusalem Embassy and Relocation Act' of 1995"
  • "Opposing efforts to de-legitimize Israel through boycott, divestment, and sanction"

Johnson told the Free Beacon that the renewed push to repair ties with Israel is critical given the Obama administration's efforts to seek U.N. action against the Jewish state.

"Recent action (or lack thereof through abstention) taken by the Obama administration at the United Nations abandoned our staunch democratic ally in the Middle East, Israel, at their time of need," Johnson said. "These actions do not represent the will of Congress or reflect our support for Israel."

"As President Trump takes office, it is important that he knows he has allies in Congress ready to work with him and take bold action to bring clarity to an issue of vital national security, and emphasize our unwavering support for Israel," Johnson said.

Johnson is likely to play a key role in the formation of a new congressional caucus meant to support these efforts and work with the Trump administration to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

Daniel Pipes, a historian and president of the Middle East Forum, told the Free Beacon that he will help advise the new caucus and guide its efforts to repair U.S.-Israel ties.

"Congressional support for Israel, long established and crucial, is about to enter a new era with the formation of an Israel Victory Caucus," Pipes said. "I look forward to it providing guidance both to the Trump administration and the general public how to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict."

"It's really not that difficult: Palestinians must, consistently and permanently, accept the Jewish state. Once that happens, the details won't be that hard to work."

Update 2:50 P.M.:  A previous version of this article stated that the letter was to be sent on Friday. The letter will be released Friday but formally sent to President Trump next week.