Click Play above to hear Rabbi Daniel Fellman discuss Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem.
By John Licinio SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — President Trump announced last Friday that the U.S. Embassy in Israel will be moved to Jerusalem in May 2017 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence. The international community strongly criticized the move when it was initially announced, as both Israel and Palestine claim the city of Jerusalem as their capital.
Rabbi Daniel Fellman of Temple Concord in Syracuse is not among the president’s detractors. Fellman, who describes himself as a Zionist, agrees with the president’s move “in principle.” “Israel is entitled to name its capital city, and if they say its capital is Jerusalem, then we should respect that,” Fellman said.
However, Fellman did not support the way that Trump handled the move in practice.
“The Israeli-Palestinian situation is extraordinarily complicated and has always been. Trump, as he does with everything else, thinks he can solve it,” Fellman said. “And while I applaud his willingness to solve it, and his willingness to act, I think this is where his race to do it without thinking through all the nuance gets in the way. And I think there is a better way of doing things than the way he’s doing it.”
Fellman also believes that the decision to open the embassy on Israel’s independence day is one that sends a message of exclusion to Palestinians and could lead to increased tensions in the region and throughout the Muslim world.
When asked how the issue could be handled in a more nuanced way, Fellman explained that his solution would be to set up two embassies in Jerusalem: an embassy for Israel and an embassy for Palestine.
Fellman stated that this decision would have been more accepted among the international community and that it would have communicated to the world that the United States supports both Israel and Palestine.
The new American embassy in Jerusalem will initially consist of a few additional offices inside an existing U.S. government building. The State Department currently has no plans to open a formal embassy in Palestine.