Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy says he welcomes Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s commitment to move Canada’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and recognize the city as the Israeli capital if elected later this year.
Jason Greenblatt, an assistant to President Trump and special representative for international negotiations at the White House, said that while Canada has the right to decide where to locate its embassy, the Trump administration supports Mr. Scheer’s proposal to follow in the footsteps of the United States and move it to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. He made the comments to reporters following a speech to a meeting of the World Jewish Congress in Ottawa on Wednesday.
“Anyone that supports the Trump administration on that, I think is a good friend and understands the reality of what Jerusalem always was and is. I think you should pay close attention to how the President did it and the remarks that the President made, but we would certainly support that decision and welcome it,” Mr. Greenblatt said.
Mr. Scheer made the announcement on Jerusalem during a major foreign-policy speech last week.
It comes one year after the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem, a disputed territory between Israel and the Palestinians. The United States also recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Palestinian Authority boycotted the U.S. peace effort, led by Mr. Greenblatt and a small group of Trump advisers, since the United States announced plans to move the embassy.
Most embassies, included Canada’s, are located in Tel Aviv, despite the fact that nearly all Israeli government institutions are based in Jerusalem. The United States and Guatemala are the only two countries with embassies in Jerusalem.
The Justin Trudeau government does not recognize the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War, and has said it will not move Canada’s embassy to Jerusalem.
Mr. Greenblatt’s visit to Ottawa comes as the White House prepares to release its long-awaited Middle East peace plan. He declined to provide details on the deal but said it will not compromise on Israel’s security. While Mr. Greenblatt did not indicate exactly when it will be released, he said it would not happen until after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was recently re-elected, forms a coalition and after the end of Ramadan and the Jewish holiday Shavuot.
Mr. Greenblatt is one of only four people with regular access to the plan, along with Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the President and husband of Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka; U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman; and Mr. Kushner’s aide, Avi Berkowitz.
Mr. Greenblatt said the White House has remained tight-lipped on the deal for a reason.
“The minute that there’s a [media] leak, the wrong people start jumping on what is leaked and try to undermine the peace effort. So what we’ve done is we’ve kept a very tight circle. There are a handful of people in the world who know what’s in it,” he said.
Mr. Greenblatt said Canada, like every country, can “re-educate the population” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by acknowledging its complexity, instead of using “talking points” that have yet to bring peace to the region. He used a Rubik’s Cube analogy to explain the complexity of the decades-long conflict.
“Imagine we’re basically throwing up a dozen or more Rubik’s Cubes, all at the same time, all the time, trying to prevent them from falling, but also solving them. And every time we turn one, the other ones move in the wrong direction," he said.