On Wednesday, President Donald Trump broke with decades of diplomatic precedent and formally recognized the disputed city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Trump also said he would begin the process of moving the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.
Although the announcement met with opposition in Arab and European capitals – where it is feared it will undermine peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians – the decision drew a largely positive reaction from S.C. leaders.
“This statement reflects the reality on the ground for the last 3,000 years,” said U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, who said the decision should not take “other options off the table regarding a two-state solution.”
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“Why did the Trump Administration decide to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel?” Graham asked rhetorically. “Because it always has been and always will be.”
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-North Charleston, also said the president’s decision recognizes facts on the ground.
“For all intents and purposes, Jerusalem is and has been the capital of Israel,” Scott said. “Their legislature is seated there, as well as their prime minister.
“Congress has repeatedly voted in a bipartisan manner in favor of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the President has made the right decision to formalize that recognition,” he said. “I look forward to our embassy moving there ... as well as strengthening our relationship with Israel as efforts to find peace in the region continue.”
U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-Springdale, said the president’s announcement shows “the people of Israel ... have an ally in the White House.”
“America’s bond with Israel is unique, and its strength is the foundation of American leadership in the Middle East,” Wilson said.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-Laurens, applauded Trump’s decision, contrasting it with the more critical stance on Mideast issues often taken by Democratic President Barack Obama.
“This decision is in clear contrast to the last administration’s anti-Israel sentiments, and it is refreshing to have a leader in the White House who supports and stands with our strong ally,” Duncan said.
State Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Horry, also approved of the decision, tweeting there was “no greater gift” he could receive on his birthday.
Clemmons is a vocal supporter of Israel who sponsored a bill in the Legislature this year to punish anti-Semitic acts on S.C. college campuses. The proposal passed overwhelmingly in the House, despite concerns it would be used to shut down criticism of Israel. Ultimately, the bill did not receive a vote in the state Senate.
Not all reactions were so positive.
Former Democratic state Rep. Bakari Sellers of Bamberg said Trump’s announcement “put forth the most conflicting Israel-Palestine foreign policy in history. It makes no sense.”
“Good luck @nikkihaley,” Sellers tweeted, suggesting Trump’s announcement would trouble the former S.C. governor in her post as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Sellers later re-tweeted the U.S. embassy in Jordan, announcing the embassy had “temporarily suspended routine public services” and personnel are “limiting public movements,” including keeping U.S. children out of school on Thursday.