JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - There was bipartisan reaction Wednesday night to President Donald Trump's controversial announcement that America will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and eventually move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
While Israeli leaders are praising the decision, Palestinian officials are insisting that the U.S. no longer be a part of any Middle East peace talks, and warning that the president's move will aid extremist organizations seeking holy war.
While some fear an increase in violence, most members of Congress say Israel deserves America's support.
U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville, told News4Jax's Kent Justice that he stands with the president in his announcement to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Yoho said Israel is America's strongest ally in the Middle East.
"Our Middle East policy has been so screwed up. We're like Johnny Depp's compass in 'Pirates of the Caribbean.' It has no direction in the Middle East, so we have to bring some stability to that area," Yoho said. "So why not try something different?"
"We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians," Trump said. "So today, we call for calm, for moderation and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate."
News4Jax gathered reactions from the other members of Northeast Florida's delegation to Washington.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, said, "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The U.S. embassy will remain in Tel Aviv for now and the United States should continue to do its part to help bring about a secure and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians through a two-state solution."
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, supports the move, saying, "Today's announcement is an important step in the right direction. Unequivocal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital will be complete when the U.S. Embassy is officially relocated there."
U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, D-Jacksonville, told News4Jax, "Our country must play a constructive role in supporting Israel as it seeks the peace and security its people deserve by continuing to promote a two-state solution through direct, bilateral negotiations that will end any question of Jerusalem's status."
U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Palm Coast, responded, "President Trump is doing what his recent predecessors have promised, but failed to deliver."
Moving the embassy is not a new idea. Since Congress passed a law to move the embassy in 1995, presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama all signed waivers every six months to halt the move in the name of national security interests and the peace process.
Jacksonville woman watching warily
Julia Truitt, a former intern at Channel 4, said by Skype from Israel that she's paying close attention to what’s going on in the Middle East after Trump's announcement.
“You've got to be safe in any foreign nation you go to, and where there might be tensions and where you need to be respectful of things you don't exactly understand,” Truitt said.
Her family trip was altered following the foreign policy change, which sparked protests outside the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul and in Amman, Jordan, where the U.S. Embassy said people there would “limit their movements.”
Truitt said she’s been amazed at her experience in the Holy Land.
“What we've been lucky enough to see is (that) people are proud of their businesses and monuments,” Truitt said. “They want to encourage people to feel welcome, and so we would go to vineyards and the CEO would come out and show us, 'Well, that's where David and Goliath fought.' He was so proud of the area. It was wonderful.”
Copyright 2017 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.