Washington – Connecticut’s Democratic U.S. senators — who have often spoken as one voice on controversial issues since Donald Trump’s election — differed over the president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reversing decades of U.S. foreign policy.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., supported the move, which sets in motion a process to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to a city that’s considered a holy site by Muslims and Christians as well as Jews.
“Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and I’ve strongly supported acknowledging that simple fact,” said Blumenthal.
Blumenthal also sponsored a resolution in the last Congress that acknowledged Jerusalem as the “undivided capital of Israel.”
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of the state of Israel,” but said he continued to believe “that we should recognize it as such and move our embassy there when the time is right as part of a comprehensive peace agreement.”
Murphy also said he is “concerned that President Trump’s decision was made without fully considering the political and security implications.”
In making his announcement Wednesday in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Trump fulfilled a campaign promise that was important to many of his evangelical and Jewish supporters.
“Today we finally acknowledge the obvious — that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” Trump said.
In a statement, Blumenthal said he hoped the president’s announced recognition of Jerusalem “will be followed by meaningful steps to advance the peace process, including secure borders for Israel and a two-state solution.”
But Murphy said he is concerned the step Trump took “will further set back any hope of a deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
“If we mess this up, it could lead to violence in Israel and across the Middle East, put American diplomats in harm’s way and jeopardize the fragile regional partnerships we have in our fight against ISIS,” Murphy said.
Trump’s announcement was supported by many GOP lawmakers, but not all of them.
Sen. John McCain said, “Issues surrounding the final and permanent status of Jerusalem must ultimately be resolved by Israelis and Palestinians as part of an internationally supported peace process.”
“That is why today’s policy announcement, as well as any future relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, should be part of a comprehensive diplomatic strategy in coordination with regional partners to achieve peace and security between Israelis and Palestinians,” McCain said.
Most resistance to Trump’s announcement came from Democrats.
“The President’s irresponsible decision to move our nation’s embassy to Jerusalem goes against decades of bipartisan American foreign policy and will likely increase tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, instead of moving us toward a lasting peace agreement,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District.
DeLauro called the bond between the United States and Israel “unshakable,” but, she said, “Peace is only attainable if the United States fully engages diplomatically as an honest broker between the Israelis and Palestinians with the goal of creating a comprehensive and durable two-state solution.”