President Donald Trump’s administration continued Sunday to defend his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.
The decision, announced Wednesday, will “move the ball forward for the peace process,” Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Trump’s announcement in the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room came as allies warned that the move could lead to violence and protests in the Middle East. Trump clarified that the policy shift was not to be equated with picking sides in the boundary disputes that have plagued Palestinian-Israeli relations for decades. But members of the UN Security Council voiced concern, warning that the decision could imperil peace talks between the two nations.
“When the president made this comment on Wednesday, everybody said the sky was going to fall. So Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, the sky’s still up there,” Haley told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “What if this actually moved the ball forward?
“For those who want to say this is a bad idea, ask us five and 10 years from now if you still think it was a bad idea,” Haley said. “What this does is just say what’s real. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. What’s wrong with saying it?”
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who serves as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the president should have made the announcement “in the right diplomatic way.” He added that the president “offered the Palestinians very little.” He said that “Trump has no appreciation for diplomacy.
“I think that was a mistake, the manner in which he did it, but clearly Jerusalem’s the capital of Israel,” Cardin said, adding that Trump “did not really engage all the players in trying to move forward the peace process.’’
Also on Sunday morning talk shows, influential Republican senators weighed in on whether the Senate will take steps to remove Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for Alabama senator facing sexual misconduct allegations, if he wins a special election Tuesday.
The allegations against Moore include an account from a woman who said that when she was 14, the judge, who was then in his 30s, touched her inappropriately and undressed her.
Moore, 70, faces Democrat Doug Jones, 63, the former U.S. attorney for Birmingham, Alabama, after the seat was vacated by Jeff Sessions when he was appointed U.S. attorney general earlier in the year.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said he could not support Moore and in early voting had written in another Republican candidate. “I couldn’t vote for Roy Moore. The state of Alabama deserves better,” he said. “I think the Republican party can do better.”
When asked about a possible Senate investigation into Moore’s conduct, Shelby said, “We’ll see what happens after that. . . . I think the Senate has to look at who’s fit to serve in the Senate.”
Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said that while the Senate will be required to seat Moore if he wins, “then there will immediately be an ethics investigation. We’ll have a greater opportunity for us to look into all the issues, the allegations and perhaps even talk to some of the folks who are witnesses. That will give us a clear picture.”
Dean Young, chief strategist for the Moore campaign, said on ABC’s “This Week” that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “and his crew have been threatening Judge Moore from the get-go. They spent $30 million down here trying to beat him in a primary. . . . Judge Moore’s going to go to Washington, Judge Moore’s going to win, and I highly doubt there’s going to be a Senate investigation. But if there is, Judge Moore is going to be found telling the truth, just like he always has. And he will win.”
Also on Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a Manhattan news conference that he did not believe the Republican tax reform plan’s victory was assured. “I think there are some Republicans hanging in the balance,” he said.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), also on “Face the Nation,” said she is waiting until the final version of the tax bill is reconciled before weighing whether to support it. “There are major differences between the House and Senate bills. And I don’t know where the bill is going to come out,” she said.
With Laura Figueroa Hernandez