Christian leaders delivered a letter to Pres. Donald Trump on Tuesday urging him to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in recognition of Israel's capital and in honor of U.S. law.
The letter, organized by the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI), overseen by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem's U.S. branch, cited the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which acknowledges Jerusalem as "the seat of Israel's President, Parliament, and Supreme Court, and the site of numerous government ministries and social and cultural institutions."
The said legislation, enacted in October 1995, states that as the U.S. operates its embassy in the capital of every country except in Israel, it should move its embassy to Israel's capital. However, the implementation of this legislation has been waived every six months by past U.S. presidents according to a provision in the Act that allows them to do so.
"We write to respectfully request your swift action to fulfill a special promise you made, and also one the United States made more than twenty years ago to one of our most important allies," the letter stated.
"As Christian leaders who collectively speak to over 60 million Americans, we believe the time has come, at long last, to uphold American law by moving the U.S. Embassy to Israel's eternal and indivisible capital city of Jerusalem."
"Now we ask you to send a message early in your administration that the United States will indeed honor its strongest and only true democratic ally in the Middle East by respecting its capital city-Jerusalem-and immediately moving the US Embassy there. Implementation of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act should not be delayed nor made contingent on any future peace agreements," the letter said.
It was signed by 60 Christian leaders, including Dr. Jerry Johnson, president and CEO of National Religious Broadcasters; Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council; Dr. James Dobson, founder and president of Family Talk and Focus on the Family; Dr. Charles Stanley, president of In Touch Ministries; Dr. John Hagee, founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel; Kay Arthur, founder of Precept Ministries; Susan Michael, USA director for International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; and Gordon Robertson, CEO of The Christian Broadcasting Network.
Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem was one of the campaign promises of Pres. Trump, which the letter also reminded him of.
Some of the president's advisers are also encouraging him to fulfill his promise to immediately move the embassy to Jerusalem. However, officials from the State Department, the Department of Defense and the intelligence community are advising him against it, saying it would be "harmful to the peace process and carry broader regional risks," CNN reported.
Trump, who has yet to decide on the matter, is facing a controversy for sharing classified information regarding ISIS with Russian officials he met with last week.
H.R. McMaster, Trump's top security adviser, said the president's disclosing of intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was "wholly appropriate to that conversation and is consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leaders with whom he's engaged."
"It is wholly appropriate for the president to share whatever information he thinks is necessary to advance the security of the American people. That's what he did," McMaster said, according to the Washington Post.
Trump reportedly told Lavrov about a laptop bomb plot of ISIS, including the city in Syria where the information was collected. Israel was said to be the source of the classified information Trump gave the Russian foreign minister, the New York Times reported.
Israeli officials expressed concern that the classified information Trump shared with Lavrov could have compromised one of their agents. However, in the midst of the controversy, Israeli defense minister Avigdor Liberman emphasized the "deep, significant" ties between Israel and the U.S., Reuters reported.
"The security relationship between Israel & our greatest ally the United States is deep, significant & unprecedented in volume," Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Twitter.
Israel's ambassador to U.S. Ron Dermer issued a similar statement.
"Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump," Dermer said, Reuters reported.