- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said Thursday that President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was a political tactic to play to his base.

“I think this makes good theater for elements of their base,” Mr. Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democrat, said on CNN.

“For really strong evangelicals, this is part of the biblical prescription that Jerusalem shall return and all of that,” Mr. Whitehouse said. “I think it’s a dangerous idea to let those religious beliefs get ahead of our national interests and our diplomatic interests.”

Mr. Whitehouse was referring to the eschatological view that some Christians hold, which says that Jesus will return to earth in Jerusalem once the Jewish people are reunited in the city. But the city of Jerusalem is a holy site for all three major world religions, including Islam and Judaism, as well as Christianity.

“After what we’ve seen from, in particular the Saudis, and the Turkish prime minister, we have some real diplomatic issues. And if they really decide that this is a big deal and that they need to push back against us, then they can hurt us in important ways,” Mr. Whitehouse said.

Palestinian and Arab leaders denounced Mr. Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Tensions over the city date back to the Six-Day War in which Israel recaptured the eastern half of the city from Jordan. Countries around the world have since put their embassies in Tel Aviv to avoid taking a side in the conflict.

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