President Donald Trump has backed off immediately moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem because of the slightly nutso view of the State Department, Bill Kristol, editor-at-large of The Weekly Standard, told Newsmax TV.
"I think he was persuaded to back off that by people who thought it was unnecessarily provocative in terms of moving the embassy or making statements about Jerusalem," Kristol said Monday in an interview with Newsmax's Steve Malzberg. "I myself think that's unfortunate.
". . . Our State Department has this sort of legalistic and slightly nutso view that you can't do anything in Jerusalem until the status of Jerusalem is resolved."
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Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital, although neither claim has solid international recognition.
"West Jerusalem is the capital of Jerusalem, it's the capital of the country, and the actual organs of government are in West Jerusalem, and so I wish he had gone through with that, actually," said Kristol, who founded the weekly conservative magazine.
". . . In the big scheme of things, if [Trump is] a good, reliable, strategic ally for Israel, I suppose that doesn't make that much difference. I would have preferred if he had made a strong statement about Jerusalem, and I really do think it's time to move the embassy.
"It's been a campaign promise for so long that people haven't taken it seriously, but it is something insane about not recognizing [a move] . . . to land has been part of Israel forever, since Israel was created."
Kristol added Trump, who is visiting the Middle East in his first foreign trip as president, has okay to have referenced Islamic terror in less incendiary terms than usual.
"I was fine with that, and I think, honestly, you don't need to pick a fight by using some term that might really drive people crazy," Kristol said. "I think in general, it was reasonable."
"I think he and his team have bet an awful lot on cooperating with the Sunni Arabs and the Saudis as a way of bolstering the anti-Iran alliance.
"There's a lot of terrorism, radicalism that comes from Saudi Arabia. That's where Wahabi Islam comes from, that's obviously [where] I think the majority of 9/11 hijackers came from. A lot of the Saudis have tried to crack down on terrorism since then, but I wouldn't get too in bed with those people."
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