An opinion writer for a Kentucky Baptist Convention website says President Trump should move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and abandon hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Mark Wohlander, an attorney and member of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky., said in a Jan. 22 commentary on Kentucky Today that the real goal of a two-state solution set out in United Nations resolutions since 1974 “is the destruction of Israel and its people.”
“Instead of continuing the two-state solution, Trump should announce that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” wrote Wohlander, a former federal prosecutor and legal adviser to Sunrise Children’s Services.
“While this would require great courage on the part of the United States and its leaders, the time has come to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” he continued. “The message which would be sent to the world would be that the United States will not abandon Israel or its people, our one true friend in the Middle East.”
Trump pledged during the campaign that he would move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel. Previous candidates Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama all said the same thing but after they were elected were convinced by Middle East experts that doing so would harm negotiations for a final settlement between Israelis and Palestinians.
CNN quoted a senior administration official saying moving the embassy remains a priority for the administration but it would not happen quickly, while White House press secretary Sean Spicer insisted that no decision has been made about whether or when the embassy would move.
Palestinian officials said they will withdraw recognition of Israel if Trump moves the embassy to Jerusalem, NBC News reported Jan. 22.
Wohlander said before Trump resurrects peace talks in the Middle East, “it would be wise for our next secretary of state to seek counsel from biblical historians.”
“What has been missing by those involved in the peace talks is a full understanding of Israel’s claim to the land, a claim which predates any modern peace talks by thousands of years,” he wrote.
“In the end, we should take heed and follow a few simple words about the nation of Israel, words which were written thousands of years ago,” he said, quoting from the Book of Genesis, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
U.S. evangelicals known as Christian Zionists believe both the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 and the capture of Jerusalem in 1967 were fulfillment of God’s promises made to Abraham to establish Israel as a Jewish nation forever.
Others say the view is based on poor theology and justifies Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people and occupation of their land.
The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution last June pledging prayer and support for Israel over objections of a pastor born in Israel that parts of it were biblically and factually incorrect.
Pastor Jamal Bishara of First Arabic Baptist Church in Phoenix, Ariz., argued unsuccessfully that Palestinians have “the right to live peaceably in their land.”
“Among the Palestinians you have brothers and sisters who are Christians also,” said Bashara, who was born and raised in Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus now known as the “Arab capital of Israel” with a population that is majority Muslim.