Trump's Jerusalem announcement draws mix of praise, criticism in R.I.December 7, 2017 11:47pm

Dec. 07--President Donald Trump's announcement Wednesday that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital drew mixed reactions across Rhode Island.

The Rhode Island Coalition for Israel, which describes itself as a "partnership between evangelical Christians and politically conservative Jews," praised the announcement, saying the group was thrilled the president had fulfilled a campaign promise.

"We're pleased because this is God's land. God is going to bless the land because America is standing behind Israel," said Mary Greene, acting communications director for the group.

Greene, who called Trump "fearless" and "a leader for our time," acknowledged that the declaration would likely lead to conflicts, but added, "we know they can be solved."

Local Jewish reaction to President Trump's announcement was wide-ranging, said Adam Greenman, president and CEO of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.

"I think that there are a variety of viewpoints within the local Jewish community," he said. "Some applaud the decision and others have concerns. It certainly changes many years of U.S. policy."

Greenman said he wouldn't presume to speak for the whole community except to say that "we all want" long-term peace in the region.

"This changes the status quo, it changes the environment, and that was the president's intention, and time will tell whether it has the positive impact that the president thinks it will, and our community hopes it does," he said.

Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the move "another diplomatic blunder."

"Today's announcement is counterproductive because the priority right now should be on reducing tensions in the region and working towards a two-state solution. The timing of this announcement and the way it was unveiled could trigger a backlash against Israel and American interests and personnel overseas," Reed said in a statement.

The U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital is a highly symbolic move. Both Israelis and Palestinians have referred to the city as their capital. The United States has never endorsed the Jewish state's claim of sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem and has seen the city's future as indelibly linked to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace agreement.

U.S. proponents of a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict envision an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel -- two states for two peoples.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse called Trump's decision "high-risk."

"The U.S. has an important role to play as an honest broker in the Middle East peace process, and this will likely make it harder to achieve a two-state solution -- the necessary foundation for any lasting peace," Whitehouse said in a statement.

-- With reports from Journal Staff Writer Tom Mooney and the Associated Press


(c)2017 The Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.)

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