Early in the week, Sheldon Adelson, an avid American supporter of Israel, offered to fund the construction of a US Embassy in Jerusalem, in response to Trump’s earlier announcement to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Middle Eastern country. The State Department released a statement indicating that they were reviewing the conditions on whether they can legally and ethically accept the donation.
Patrick Kennedy, a former member of the State Department, mentioned that “as long as a donor passes an ethics and background check, we’ll take their money if they’re willing to give it. There’s no problem there.” Adelson is estimated to donate $500 million, as that is the projected cost to replace the current embassy in Tel Aviv. While donors have in the past paid for renovations to ambassador’s residencies abroad, it has been undetermined whether any have offered to donate for the renovation of an embassy itself.
Moreover, the leader of the Zionist Organisation of America said that “[i]t should be crystal-clear that this is the U.S. government making the decision to move it.” This statement stems from concerns over the strains it may place on the relationships or tensions that exist in the Middle East. There is further concern that this could be seen as privatizing and politicizing American foreign policy, as Adelson is a notable player in the relations between Israel and America, a donor to Trump, and patron of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He is also the owner of an Israeli newspaper.
Trump initially vowed that he would move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem during his presidential campaign. It was further reported that he planned to erect a temporary embassy in Jerusalem, projected to be open in time for Israel’s 70th anniversary on May 14th. As expected, the decision sparked outrage among Palestinians, including Ghassan Khatib, a notable political scientist working at Birzeit University, who believes that the acceleration of the embassy’s move to Jerusalem will “increase the negative feelings toward the United States and the notion that it is too biased toward Israel.”
Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was quite a shock to the international community, sparking many controversial opinions, many of which felt would cause even more strain to the tensions existing in the Middle East. In addition, the announcement of the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital caused international outrage and concern over ever the possibility of establishing peace between Israel and Palestine. The erection of an embassy could irreparably harm the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. And, the fact that it may be funded by a pro-Israeli-American, may further spark outrage and controversy over the move.
That said, the hope is that the construction of the embassy in Jerusalem does not cause further harm to the region.