Israel’s ambassador to the United States issued an impassioned endorsement on Tuesday of President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to relocate the U.S. embassy to Yerushalayim, a move that would mark a break with long-standing U.S. foreign policy.
Ron Dermer, the Israeli envoy to Washington, made the statement less than a week after Trump announced his decision to nominate David Friedman as ambassador to Israel.
Speaking at an Israeli embassy Chanukah party, Dermer insisted that moving the U.S. diplomatic mission would be a “great step forward to peace,” rather than inflaming the Arab world, as critics of the idea have warned.
Dermer, without mentioning Trump or his ambassador-designate by name, said the embassy move “should have happened a long time ago.”
Among the main reasons, he told a crowd that included foreign diplomats and American Jewish community leaders, was that “it would send a strong message against the de-legitimization of Israel.”
Dermer said he hoped that next year when the new U.S. ambassador lights the Chanukah candles in his embassy, he will do so in Yerushalayim.
Dermer’s comments appeared more forceful than recent remarks by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has long vowed to keep Yerushalayim as Israel’s undivided capital.
Netanyahu, who has had a fractious relationship with President Barack Obama, has welcomed Trump’s election but seems to be waiting to see what policies he implements.
He is reported to have been pleased with Trump’s appointment of Friedman.