Rep. Ron DeSantis told reporters Sunday he is confident President Donald Trump will move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The latest six-month Presidential waiver on a congressional order to switch the embassy location, signed by President Barack Obama at the end of last year, expires in May.
DeSantis told reporters he did not expect Trump to follow the lead of all his predecessors and sign a further six-month extension.
“He’s in a position where he’s either going to follow his campaign promise or he’s actually going to have to sign this wavier, and I just think knowing the President, he has been a man of his word,” the Florida Republican said. “I don’t think that he’s going to, on the same month where people here in Jerusalem are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem Day, sign the waiver. I would bet that he would not do that and he would announce that the embassy would be moving.”
Jerusalem Day marks the Israeli government’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, resulting in Israeli control of the formerly Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem.
As a presidential candidate, Trump repeatedly promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem and while he didn’t offer specifics, Trump said most recently in February that he’d love to see the embassy moved.
Every president since 1995, when Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy act, has used the presidential waiver to decline moving the embassy as called for by the law, citing national security interests. Ordered by Congress, the Presidents reviewed the legislation every six months.
Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would mean that the US effectively recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, overturning decades of US foreign policy, and, many argue, would effectively signal the end of efforts to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Ziad Khalil Abu Zayyad, a spokesperson for the Palestinian party Fatah, warned that moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would set off an “explosion in the situation” in Jerusalem and the Middle East, according to the Palestinian Maan News Agency. Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary-General Saeb Erakat has said the PLO would consider revoking its recognition of Israel if the US embassy was moved to Jerusalem.
DeSantis responded to the idea that moving the embassy could lead to an outbreak in violence by saying, “I can’t predict what will happen, so I wouldn’t want to make that prediction at all, but i think if you look at the benefits of moving it, they outweigh the risks.”
Earlier, the Florida congressman toured what is believed to be the most likely site of any new embassy building in Jerusalem, in the neighborhood of Talpiot. He also discussed the possible move with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud lawmaker Yehuda Glick. DeSantis did not meet with any Palestinian officials or Israeli defense officials, groups that have opposed moving the embassy to Jerusalem.