I arrived in Israel a few days ago and have become more convinced that President Donald Trump does in fact really intend on moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, albeit it will take some time.
Firstly, newly appointed US Ambassador David Friedman said in statement that “I intend to work tirelessly to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region, and look forward to doing this from the US embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
It could be that Friedman's words will not come to fruition, but think he said this as soon as his appointment was announced, because he truly believes that the embassy will be moved. As US Ambassador, Friedman will be the one directly overseeing the embassy being moved, which is why his comments ought to be taken seriously. Friedman is a bankruptcy lawyer who represented Trump after the umbrella company for his three Atlantic City casinos, Trump Entertainment Resorts, went into bankruptcy in 2009. Friedman is a pro-settlement hawkish 57 year old Orthodox Jew and Hebrew speaker (who personally does not believe in a two state solution). Friedman has argued that Israel doesn’t face a “demographic threat” to its Jewish character if it fails to separate from the Palestinians. In addition, and most tellingly, Friedman served as president of American Friends of Bet El Institutions, an organization that supports Beit El, a West Bank settlement just outside Ramallah. I can't help but think that Friedman means business when he says he looks forward to working from the US Embassy in Jerusalem. In fact, it may well be that Trump chose Friedman to be US Ambassador since he trusts that Friedman will have the fortitude to supervise the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem.
This hotel currently serves the Israeli Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, and Jewish new immigrants live there and must all be evicted before the property could be turned into the American Embassy. I have spoken with a source who knows a woman living in the hotel who has received an eviction notice. My source indicated that it will take some time before the US Embassy is actually moved (ie 2018 or 2019)
Over twenty years ago the US bought a plot in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem known as the Allenby Baracks, now empty, that potentially could house the American Embassy but the Palestinians complained that before the 1948 war the land belonged to Palestinian families and that it would be unbecoming to have a US embassy on "stolen" property."
Trump's evangelical conservative base would greatly applaud the move of the Embassy. Notwithstanding this, the move of the embassy would anger many of America's Arab allies and the former business colleagues of Texas oilman and ExxonMobile CEO Rex Tillerson who has been named Trump's Secretary of State.
However, Saudi Arabia and other Arab States have moved closer to Israel behind the scenes in an effort to fend off Iranian hegemony in the region, such that notwithstanding that the Palestinians may threaten to make Trump's life miserable if he moves the Embassy to Jerusalem, the Palestinians may not really be able to back up the threat. On the other hand, The Times of Israel reported on Dec 19 that Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization has predicted that public anger on the Arab street over transferring the US Embassy to Jerusalem would force the closure of all US embassies in the Arab world. Erekat said he would immediately resign as the chief Palestinian negotiator, and that “the PLO will revoke its recognition of Israel” as well as all previously signed agreements with Israel.
Kellyanne Conway, Trump's former campaign manager currently serving as a senior adviser, said on a conservative radio talk show about moving the Embassy to Jerusalem “That is a very big priority for this president-elect, Donald Trump.” She also said “As president-elect, I’ve heard him repeat it several times privately, if not publicly.”
We will have to wait and see if Trump delays moving the Embassy because of pressure from the Arab world and its supporters, as previous US Presidents have done in the end, but that is no doubt that David Friedman his new Ambassador will strongly advocate for keeping that promise.