U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., is keeping the pressure up on President Donald Trump to fulfill his campaign promise and move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
This week, DeSantis, a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2018 and the chairman of the U.S. House National Security Subcommittee, sent a letter to Trump on the matter. Twelve fellow representatives–including Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Brian Mast and Dennis Ross–signed off on the letter.
“The president has been an unwavering advocate for our friends and allies in Israel,” DeSantis said earlier this week. “However, Israel remains the only nation in the world where an American embassy is not located in its chosen capital city. Rectifying this error and moving our embassy to Jerusalem will strengthen the positive relationship that President Trump has cultivated with Israel. President Trump has promised that it is a question of when, not if, he will chose to relocate the American embassy and it is my sincere hope that the president fulfills this promise in December.”
DeSantis has been increasingly active on this front in recent weeks. Earlier this month, DeSantis held a subcommittee meeting and insisted moving the embassy would not pose a security threat and he met with members of the Knesset to talked about American-Israeli relations.
“It has been an honor to meet with the Israeli members of the Israel Victory Caucus this week and discuss the cherished friendship between our two nations,” DeSantis said after that meeting. “We agree that the greatest obstacle to peace is the refusal of Palestinians to acknowledge that Israel is the legitimate national home of the Jewish people. America can help remove that obstacle by relocating our embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel and a symbol of the Jewish people’s historic connection to the land. I am encouraged by President Trump’s promise that it is a question of when, not if, he will chose to relocate the American embassy and I applaud his administration for standing strong by Israel.”
DeSantis has been focused this year on urging the Trump administration to move the embassy in Israel. At the start of the year, DeSantis rounded up more than 100 fellow members of Congress to send a letter Trump on the matter. DeSantis’ effort won the support of some of the members of the Florida delegation including U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., who chairs the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee. Other members of the Florida delegation who signed the letter were Republican U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Carlos Curbelo, Mast and Ted Yoho. Also at the start of the year, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., teamed up with former presidential primary rival U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., to bring out the “Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act” which would move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In March, DeSantis visited Israel where he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leading Israeli officials. During his tour, DeSantis scouted out four sites in Jerusalem where the embassy could be relocated and stopped by the current embassy in Tel Aviv. Back in May, DeSantis, one of the founders of the Israel Victory Caucus in Congress, led the charge to let American citizens born in Jerusalem designate Israel as their birthplace on passports and other documents. DeSantis rounded up more than 50 members of Congress to send a letter to U.S. Sec. of State Rex Tillerson, urging the State Department to let citizens born in Jerusalem say there were born in Israel. With the U.S. having recognized Jerusalem as a divided city, the State Department has not allowed Jerusalem born citizens to claim Israel as their birthplace. Jerusalem-born American Menachem Zivotofsky took this all the way to U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 but the Court ruled in 2015 that he could not list Israel as his birthplace in a 6-3 ruling as Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samiel Alito and the late Antonin Scalia dissented.