This past week, Donald Trump’s Israel Advisory Committee issued a Joint Statement detailing Trump’s policies regarding Israel and the U.S./Israel relationship. It is perhaps the most pro-Israel set of policies ever issued by a U.S. Presidential candidate.
The Co-Chairmen of the Committee include David Friedman, a practicing lawyer in New York who maintains a residence in Jerusalem, and serves as President of American Friends of Bet El, and Jason Dov Greenblatt, a real estate attorney who has been with the Trump Organization for nearly two decades.
The Joint Statement was not reported in the mainstream U.S. media and did not receive the attention it deserved in the U.S. Jewish media. So I would like to discuss several important topics included in the Statement.
U.S. Aid – The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Obama Administration and the Israeli government in September included a military aid package to Israel of $38 billion over 10 years. However, the Obama administration insisted on a provision that would prevent Israel from requesting more aid in the future and also prevented Israel from accepting more aid that Congress might wish to appropriate in the future.
According to the Joint Statement “A Trump Administration will ensure that Israel receives maximum military, strategic and tactical cooperation from the United States, and the MOU will not limit the support that we give.” Therefore, Trump rejects the limits imposed by Obama in the MOU, which is important should Israel need additional assistance in the future.
Delegitimization and Double Standards – The Joint Statement reads “The U.S. should veto any United Nations votes that unfairly single out Israel and will work in international institutions …including the European Union, to oppose efforts to delegitimize Israel, impose discriminatory double standards against Israel, or to impose special labeling requirements on Israeli products or boycotts on Israeli goods.”
The statement about labeling is important. In January, 2016, the Obama Administration issued a directive requiring special labeling for Israeli-made goods produced in Judea and Samaria. This followed a similar decision by the European Union in November, 2015. Israel condemned the EU’s decision as “anti-Semitic” and stated that this would only encourage further boycotts of Israel and contribute to the delegitimization of Israel. The Obama Administration’s decision was also condemned by many Republicans in Congress. A Trump Administration would end the labeling requirement.
Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) – “The U.S. should view the effort to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel as inherently anti-Semitic and take strong measures … to thwart actions that are intended to limit commercial relations with Israel…” This is a strong statement that recognizes the anti-Semitic nature of the BDS movement, which, during the years of the Obama Presidency, has grown significantly across Europe and in many college campuses across the U.S.
Unlike the Obama Administration, a Trump Administration will actively confront and oppose this movement.
Israeli/Palestinian conflict – In a significant and welcome departure from previous U.S. policy, the language regarding a “two-state solution” was dropped from the Republican Party platform as well as from Donald Trump’s official policy.
The Joint Statement reads “A two state solution between Israel and the Palestinians appears impossible as long as the Palestinians are unwilling to renounce violence against Israel or recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.”
“The U.S. cannot support the creation of a new state where terrorism is financially incentivized, terrorists are celebrated by political parties and government institutions, and the corrupt diversion of foreign aid is rampant.”
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a President whose policies are based on reality and common sense?
“Any solution imposed on Israel by outside parties, including by the United Nations Security Council, should be opposed… Pressure should not be put on Israel to withdraw to borders that make attacks and conflict more likely.”
This language is critical. It is completely different from the policies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who have consistently put pressure on Israel to make dangerous territorial concessions to the Palestinians. In addition, there is a real fear in Israel and among many American supporters of Israel that after the November elections, the Obama Administration will seek a UN Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian Arab state and declaring any homes built by Israel in Judea and Samaria to be illegal. The election of Donald Trump would provide more leverage to the pro-Israel community to prevent Obama from doing this.
Jerusalem – For years, the Obama Administration has criticized and condemned Israel for building houses in existing Jewish communities in eastern Jerusalem. Recently, following the death of Shimon Peres, the Administration issued an official transcript of Obama’s eulogy listing “Jerusalem, Israel” as the location of his speech, but later crossed out the word “Israel,” to send a message that he does not consider Jerusalem to be a part of Israel. Donald Trump has a different view.
“The U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state and Mr. Trump’s Administration will move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.”
This is certainly not the policy of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or the Democratic Party.
(In addition, if Mr. Trump is elected President, he most likely will build the new embassy in Jerusalem “under budget and ahead of schedule!)
Two more sentences in the Joint Statement are important to mention.
“Israel is the state of the Jewish people, who have lived in that land for 3,500 years… The false notion that Israel is an occupier should be rejected.”