At pre-inaugural event in Washington, President-elect Donald Trump tells Israel Hayom he will move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, “and I’m not a person who breaks promises” • Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat launches campaign thanking Trump for his support.
President-elect Donald Trump landed in Washington, D.C. this week for the events leading up to his inauguration on Friday as the 45th president of the United States.
Trump’s close associate, Chairman of the 58th Presidential Inauguration Committee Thomas J. Barrack Jr., put on an event Tuesday evening to present Trump’s ideas to the 147 foreign ambassadors, consuls, and diplomats currently serving in Washington. The event was held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, where the North Atlantic Treaty was signed in 1949. The choice was symbolic — Trump wanted to send a message, particularly to U.S. allies, that he isn’t as terrible as he is portrayed.
“I have great respect for your countries, I have great respect for the world,” he said.
At the end of his speech, Trump gave the foreign envoys a chance to speak briefly with the president-elect. The ambassadors from Singapore, India, Yemen, Tunisia, and plenty of other nations stood in line to introduce themselves to him.
This writer, a former Israeli ambassador to an Islamist country, enjoyed the chance to speak with Trump again and remind him of what he had said in a previous interview to Israel Hayom about moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing the latter as the capital of Israel.
When asked if he remembered his promise, Trump replied: “Of course I remember what I told you about Jerusalem. Of course I didn’t forget. And you know I’m not a person who breaks promises,” he said.
When asked about current events in Israel, Trump replied: “I can’t wait to start working with Israel. This weekend, relations between us officially begin.”
The issue of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is one that is keeping his transition team busy.
Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, one of the chief architects of Trump’s electoral victory, spoke with Israel Hayom and said, “Of course we support it [the embassy move]. I think we need to do it tomorrow.”
For Conway, it seems a natural step. The appointee for U.S. ambassador to the U.N., South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, also made her position on the matter clear in her Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday. But before any such move can happen, the inauguration needs to take place.
Trump does not hesitate to attack the approximately 60 congressmen who have announced they plan to boycott the ceremony. “That’s OK, because we need seats so badly, I hope they give me their tickets.”
Barrack addressed the media and referenced a surprise that is planned for the inauguration. When Israel Hayom presses him for details at the Chairman’s Global Dinner later, he answers, “Sunshine. The best surprise, other than Trump being elected, is nice weather for the inauguration.”
In his speech Tuesday evening, Trump told the foreign representatives to “tell your governments that I’m good.”
Still, he did not hesitate to tell the crowd that some of the envoys represented bad governments, a further indication that politically correct has gone out the window.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence took the podium to introduce Trump, and told the audience that he was still excited about the phone call he received this past summer informing him that Trump had chosen him as a running mate.
When Trump made his appearance, the envoys present pulled out their mobile devices to snap pictures. Trump is the president-elect and a celebrity. Love him or hate him, but he doesn’t leave anyone apathetic.
Trump had warm praise for Pence: “It was an excellent choice, wasn’t it? A balanced choice.” He also cracked jokes at the expense of the candidates who hadn’t been elected, saying that the political partnership was no accident.
“There were two other beauties I could have chosen, but it wouldn’t have been as successful as Mike,” Trump said.
Turning to the audience, he went on to say, “We have so many friends, 147 diplomats and ambassadors, which is something that never happened in the past [at a pre-inaugural event]. We have great respect for your countries. We have great respect for the world.”
Trump also had calming words for the international community after his remarks to The Times of London, suggesting the NATO alliance was “obsolete,” and that more countries will exit the European Union.
And of course the media had to be discussed. Pence told the audience that he “isn’t certain that the media here in America really understands this president-elect. I can promise you that the world will,” he said.
Pence added that Trump would put America at the top of his list of priorities, but that “we are going to work every day with the nations of the world to promote peace and prosperity.”
Trump also spoke about the media, telling the guests how it had been dishonest in its coverage of the election and his victory, and was now putting too much emphasis on popular polls, which he claims get things wrong — like the ones conducted during the campaign.
Meanwhile, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has launched a campaign of his own in support of the president-elect in which he is appealing to the citizens of Israel to welcome Trump as the new U.S. president and back his decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Barkat’s campaign is asking Israelis to sign an online petition thanking Trump for his strong support of Israel and his promise to move the embassy, which the mayor plans to submit to members of Trump’s administration.
Barkat said his call to sign the petition came after eight years of the Barack Obama presidency, a period in which U.S.-Israeli relations took a turn for the worse.
“After the eight dry years, a true friend has come to the White House. And I, along with all the citizens of Israel, welcome President-elect Donald Trump as he is elected leader of the free world, and thank him for his support of Israel and his efforts to move the embassy to Jerusalem.
“The call to sign the petition comes in light of Israel’s enemies’ strong opposition to the move. I’ll direct all sectors of Israeli society [to it] and together, we’ll send a signal to leaders in Washington that the U.S.’s greatest friend is still here,” Barkat said.