EDINBURG — Aligning with President Donald Trump and others Republicans, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, supports the U.S. moving to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The U.S. also plans to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of 2019, Vice President Mike Pence said during an Israel visit last week.
The United Nations General Assembly voted last month 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions, for a resolution demanding the U.S. rescind its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Aside from Israel, a slew of small nations sided with the U.S. in the “no” vote, including Guatemala, Honduras, Togo, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru and Palau, mostly countries that heavily depend on American aid.
NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico abstained from the December vote while other allies such as Great Britain, France, Germany and Japan voted in favor of the resolution.
Gonzalez, who said he’s not a big Trump fan, praised Guatemala President Jimmy Morales for “his courage in the face of international pressure” and commended Morales for standing with the U.S. in recognizing the holy city as the Israeli capital.
Morales, who ran his presidential campaign on an anti-corruption platform, has been under pressure amid allegations that include illegal campaign financing.
“Jerusalem is the real capital of the Jewish people,” Gonzalez said Friday. “I believe a lot of countries believe it should be moved that don’t have the courage to take that vote in the U.N.”
Cruz called on other countries to follow the U.S. and Guatemala.
“I encourage countries around the world to now engage in their own moment of historical moral clarity, to follow America’s lead in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, immediately begin the process of moving their embassies to Jerusalem, and stand with the United States and Israel in voting against any future effort in international forums that attempts to deny historic truth,” Cruz said last month.
Gonzalez said he wants this Middle Eastern region to prosper. But this U.S. move threatens to alienate America’s Arab allies and further complicates the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I’m for a two-state solution, but I don’t think that changes the fact that Jerusalem is the real capital of Israel,” he said. “And I think we need to support it and I think America supports it and I think with time other countries will support it.”
Gonzalez acknowledged it’s not popular, especially within the Democratic Party, to support Trump’s move, “but it’s the right thing to do.”