A Florida pastor with a heart for Israel says the relocation of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, while controversial, isn't the stumbling block to peace in the Middle East that some have been led to believe. The obstacle, he says, remains as it has for decades: the Arab world's refusal to recognize Israel as a nation.
The United States plans to celebrate Israel's Independence Day next week alongside its longstanding friend and ally by opening the new U.S. embassy on Monday in the holy city of Jerusalem – a move that has sparked a social and political firestorm on both sides of the Atlantic. In December, President Trump expressed his intent to make that move and signed a proclamation stating the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. For decades, past presidents had made promises to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but each one of them has failed to do so.
In February, in a Jerusalem Post interview, a State Department official said: "We're planning to open the new U.S. Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem in May. The Embassy opening will coincide with Israel's 70thanniversary." Indeed, that will come to pass on Monday, according to numerous news reports, when the new embassy will open with a staff of 50.
Commemorative coin issued
In honor of the 70th anniversary of Israel's independence and the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, an Israeli non-profit is releasing a celebratory coin featuring the images of President Donald Trump and King Cyrus – who allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem 2,500 years ago.
The "Temple Coin," as it's called, "expresses our joy and gratitude that the American Embassy will be transferred to Jerusalem in honor of Israel's Independence Day," says the non-profit group. "It is the fulfillment of the Trump declaration recognizing the centrality of Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel."
Concern has been expressed by Israeli authorities that the move could provoke new violence in Jerusalem and in the West Bank – where the Palestinian Authority is based – and hamper the Middle East peace process. But Pastor Steve Kreloff, a Jewish Christian and pastor of Lakeside Community Chapel for 37 years, tells OneNewsNow: "There is no peace process." He explains why the potential violence in response has little to do with the relocation itself.
"The only nations [that] Israel has really made peace with in the Arab world have been Egypt and Jordan, and even these relationships are tenuous," he reiterates. "Moving the Embassy doesn't harm the peace process. There's been no progress made about peace."
Kreloff is convinced the move is widely opposed because Israel itself is hated by multitudes of people in the Middle East and around the world.
"I do not believe the Middle East crisis is going to be solved one way or the other based on moving the Embassy. In terms of their view of Israel, they'll never be satisfied unless Israel ceases to exist," he argues, adding: "Jerusalem is not the stumbling block. The Palestinians and others in the Arab world have never recognized Israel as a state."
And President Trump, says Kreloff, not only did the right thing in moving the embassy – he did the obvious thing.
"Everybody other than the Arab world knows Jerusalem is the capital of Israel," he notes. "Everyone who knows anything about biblical truth knows it is the capital. The parliament, called the Knesset, is in Jerusalem. The prime minister's office is in Jerusalem. Those who live in Israel recognize that Jerusalem is their capital."
And as the pastor points out, every sovereign country has the right to designate a city in its country as its capital.
"When a country names [its] capital, it would be ridiculously absurd for the rest of the world not to acknowledge it. That would be like a country telling us, We don't accept Washington, DC, as your capital. We're going to put our embassy in another city of our own choice. Would this sort of absurdity be tolerated by the American people? I think not."
Despite all the political rhetoric or threats of violence, Israel has always attempted to offer viable peaceful solutions to their neighbors existing in the region, says the pastor.
"[But] historically," Kreloff concludes, "every time Israel has offered some type of peace negotiations, the Arab world has rejected them. Specifically, the Palestinians have rejected them. It's because they won't be satisfied until Israel disappears, which will not happen. However, that is their ultimate goal."
Kreloff is author of the book God's Plan for Israel: A Study of Romans 9-11 and hosts "Verse by Verse," a weekly radio program heard in Florida and Connecticut.