U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a special message from Washington to the celebrants of the embassy opening in Yerushalayim on Monday:
“Today I am proud to celebrate the opening of the United States Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem. This significant event fulfills a promise made by President Trump. As he proclaimed on December 6, 2017:
‘Seventy years ago, the United States, under President Truman, recognized the State of Israel. Since then, the State of Israel has made its capital in Jerusalem — the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times. It is therefore appropriate for the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.’
We remain committed to advancing a lasting and comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”
“I am delighted to have visited Israel on my first trip overseas as Secretary of State. I look forward to returning soon to visit our new U.S. embassy and Ambassador Friedman in Jerusalem,” Pompeo concluded.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan is representing the State Department in Yerushalayim on Sunday and Monday.
Also on Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Senatorial delegation led by Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and a House delegation led by Joe Wilson (R-SC).
Prime Minister Netanyahu said at the meetings that “today is an historic day that constitutes a milestone in the history of our people, our state and the alliance between us.”
However, the absence of any Democrats was conspicuous, and members of the delegation commented on it, saying that anyone in the House or Senate who wanted to could have come, but chose not to.
“That is a sad, sad manifestation. I wish he’d have every member of Congress here,” Texas Senator Ted Cruz said Monday morning in Yerushalayim, according to The Times of Israel.
“I don’t know why the Democrats will not be here, chose not to come. Every member of Congress had the option before them to come and be here. There was no way on earth we could have inaugurated this embassy without my being here to celebrate it. It’s too important,” said Cruz.
Senator Lindsey Graham said he personally invited some Democrats to join the delegation, but to no avail. He also expressed disappointment at the low turnout, only “a handful” Republicans who made the trip.
“I would just assume that the Republicans who didn’t come had [scheduling] conflicts,” he told reporters at a press conference in the capital’s King David Hotel. “But I am disappointed that not one Democrat came. What does that say? It’s not for me to tell you what that says. It hurts me. Because I work across the aisle on a regular basis. I think it was a mistake, because there’s too much going on in this region.”
The U.S. embassy in Israel would not comment on the matter. An embassy official stated, “As a general policy we won’t comment on a guest list.”
The absence of Democrats highlighted a trend that has caused growing concern over a weakening of the traditional bipartisan support for Israel.
U.S. ambassador to Israel during the Obama administration Dan Shapiro said on Monday that the support is still there, but needs to be nurtured:
“There is definitely broad bipartisan for Israel; and I believe that in Congress there is broad bipartisan support for moving the embassy. That’s been demonstrated in many ways, without regard to who made the trip to attend the ceremony,” said Shapiro, who reportedly did not receive an invitation to Monday’s event.
“I do think it is a responsibility of the sitting administration — and of the Israeli government — to make every effort to preserve the historic bipartisan nature of the US-Israel relationship,” Shapiro added.
Updated Monday, May 14, 2018 at 5:09 pm