The mayor of Jerusalem has assured U.S. Congress that America faces no additional terrorist threat by moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to the ancient city despite opposition from Palestinians and the greater Muslim world.
“The importance of the move to Jerusalem is second to nothing else,” Nir Barkat told members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Tuesday while visiting Washington. “God forbid if there is a security challenge, I assure you we will not shy away from it.”
On Monday, President Trump told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he may visit Israel for the opening of the embassy, slated for early May.
“We’re going to have it built very quickly and very inexpensively,” Mr. Trump said to reporters before a meeting with Mr. Netanyahu. “While not making any specific commitments, we’re looking at coming … If I can, I will.”
On Tuesday, Mr. Barkat discussed the history of Jerusalem during a roundtable gathering hosted by House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform member Rep. Ron DeSantis. The Florida Republican played a key role on Capitol Hill advocating for the move, including scouting possible sites for the new facility while visiting Israel.
Mr. Barkat also praised Mr. Trump for his “boldness and leadership” on the issue and noted that Israelis deeply appreciate the historical significance of the White House’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as a capital, and move the embassy there, 70 years after President Harry Truman recognized Israel as a sovereign state.
On Monday, Mr. Netanyahu, who was visiting Washington to address the pro-Israel group AIPAC, sang similar praises for the Trump Administration’s Jerusalem decision.
“Mr. President, this will be remembered by our people, throughout the ages,” the prime minister said. “And as you just said, others talked about it; you did it.”
Palestinians, meanwhile, have lashed out the decision and argue that it negates the United States as a credible negotiator in peace talks.
From a local security standpoint, Mr. Barkat told lawmakers that the Israeli government would dedicate all possible resources to protecting the new embassy. He also pointed out that Washington has a murder rate 15 times higher than Jerusalem.
“So,” he joked, “whenever I fly to D.C., I pray to come back to Jerusalem safely.