For Trump, an Embassy in Jerusalem Is a Political Decision, Not a Diplomatic One
In doing so, Mr. Trump invited opprobrium from foreign leaders, who said the move was reckless and self-defeating. He also acted against the counsel of Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who worried about anti-American blowback, not least to diplomats and troops serving overseas.
Mr. Trump conceded the provocative nature of his decision. But as he has before, whether in pulling the United States from the Paris climate accord or disavowing the Iran nuclear deal, the president on Wednesday seemed to relish playing a familiar role: the political insurgent, defying foreign policy orthodoxy on behalf of the people who elected him.
“People are waking up to the fact that the president doesn’t see grays and doesn’t like pastels,” said Christopher Ruddy, a conservative news media executive and friend of Mr. Trump’s. “He is very proud that he’s fulfilled so many campaign promises, and the embassy decision is another notch on his belt.”
Mr. Trump’s handling of the embassy question was not unlike his handling of the nuclear deal with Iran, which he reluctantly certified the first time before disavowing it the second time the issue came up.
Under a 1995 law, the president is required to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem unless, citing national security concerns, he signs a waiver, which has to be renewed every six months. The first time he faced that decision, in June, Mr. Trump grudgingly signed it.
At the time, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is leading Mr. Trump’s peace initiative, argued that to move the embassy then might strangle the effort before the administration had established relationships in the region.
Mr. Adelson and other pro-Israel backers were deeply frustrated. He pressed Mr. Trump on the issue at a private dinner in October at the White House that included his wife, Miriam, and Mr. Kushner. Mr. Adelson also vented to Stephen K. Bannon, then the president’s chief strategist, who argued internally for moving the embassy in June.