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Story highlights

Jason Greenblatt: We need a president whose word can be counted on at home and abroad

Trump would recognize the right of the Israeli people to choose their capital city, he says

Editor’s Note: Jason Greenblatt is an executive vice president and chief legal officer of The Trump Organization, co-founder of www.inspireconversation.com and an adviser on Israel to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. You can follow him @JasonDovEsq. The views expressed are his own.

(CNN) —  

It seems to be a regular feature of the U.S presidential election cycle: Candidates from both parties solemnly pledge to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, only to sidestep the issue upon taking office. Shouldn’t the selection of a capital city rest solely with the people of the country who reside there?

Donald Trump believes it should. As president, he would recognize the right of the Israeli people to choose their capital city (a choice, incidentally, that has remained unchanged throughout 3,500 years of uninterrupted Jewish presence in Israel). That choice is Jerusalem.

Ever since King David established Jerusalem as the capital of the Land of Israel three millennia ago, the city has held unique significance to the Jewish people – both geographically and spiritually. Prior to modern times, Jerusalem largely comprised what is commonly referred to today as the Old City, the eastern section of Jerusalem (sometimes called East Jerusalem) where Judaism’s holiest sites are located, including the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

Jason Greenblatt
Jason Greenblatt

The Temple Mount is considered to be the holiest place in the world for Jews, while the Western Wall is the remnant of an outer wall of the Second Temple, and is especially dear to Jews as it is the location closest to what was the holiest part of the Second Temple. The Old City also contains churches, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and other areas that are of great importance, historically and prophetically to Christians. Muslims, for their part, revere the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, a site constructed in the 7th century on the site where the Jewish temples once stood.

History records that only twice have invaders managed to expel the Jews from the Old City (though never from Israel entirely): the exile following the Romans’ destruction of the Second Temple almost 2,000 years ago, lasting nearly a century, and the 19-year Jordanian occupation beginning in 1948. After Israel achieved independence that year, an Arab coalition invaded, with Jordan capturing the Old City, destroying historic synagogues, desecrating Jewish cemeteries and barring Jewish worshipers from its holy sites. But when Jordan attacked Israel again in the Six Day War of 1967, Israel successfully routed its advancing forces, enabling Israel to recapture the Old City. After 2,000 years, the city of Jerusalem was reunited under Jewish control, and has been open to worshipers from all faiths ever since.

That openness – in a city teeming with ethnic and religious diversity – is a powerful testament to freedom and pluralism in a region desperately in need of both. Yet some suggest redividing the city, in the belief that peace will follow. One need only look southward, to Gaza, to realize the folly of that plan. An undivided Jerusalem must remain Israel’s eternal capital. After all, no other arrangement ensures open access to the city’s holy sites for all who wish to pray there.

Since ancient times, nations have recognized each other’s authority to designate their own capitals. Yet somehow, modern Israel is held to a different standard. Some people fear that acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital might offend its neighbors, the city’s non-Jewish residents – or even make them feel unwelcome in the place they call home. But the irony is that only during the time of the Jordanian occupation, when the Old City was outside of Israel’s control, were Christians and Jews either barred or severely restricted from visiting their faiths’ holy sites. By contrast, Israel has made the entire city accessible and welcoming to people of all faiths.

Trump believes that, as the crossroads of the world’s religions, a unified Jerusalem must remain open to all worshipers, and the reality is that any threat to Israel’s rule over the city would imperil that free access. Recognizing Israel’s authority to designate Jerusalem as its capital is the surest way to ensure harmony and that the holy sites in the city remain open to all who wish to visit them.

What is Hillary Clinton’s view? That depends on who is doing the asking.

During her 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Clinton pledged to support “Israel’s right to exist in safety as a Jewish state, with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital.” But fast-forward eight years, and she remains silent on the issue. Meanwhile, as recently as 2011, Clinton filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in which she argued that recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem would “critically compromise the ability of the United States to work with the Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region to further the peace process.”

Which Clinton should we believe?

We need a president who means what he says, one whose word can be counted on at home and abroad. Donald Trump believes in the right of the Israeli people to choose their capital, and his actions as president will show that he is a man of his word. As he said at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference last March, once he is elected, the United States will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In addition, Trump will eliminate the Israel-bashing that has been a regular item on the agenda of the current administration, an ugly trend that would likely continue under an administration led by Hillary Clinton. Just two years ago, Clinton boasted to CNN that she was often the Obama administration’s “designated yeller” at Israel’s leaders. She even chastised the Israelis for building in east Jerusalem itself.

Enough is enough.

A Trump administration will be a true friend to Israel. Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, and the undivided city is essential to the security of its all its citizens regardless of their religious faith.

Israel – and its allies here in America – need Donald Trump as the next president of the United States.

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