Politics

Tillerson’s Israel Comments Got The Worst Kind Of Guy ‘Furious’

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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Republican Party mega-donor Sheldon Adelson was “furious” about comments Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made concerning the U.S. embassy in Israel, sources close to the casino magnate told Axios.

Adelson, who cut a $5 million check to President Donald Trump’s inauguration, was miffed that Tillerson remained noncommittal about moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem during his appearance on “Meet The Press” on Sunday.

Tillerson said Trump is being “very careful” as he weighs the decision to relocate the embassy, a campaign pledge supported by Adelson and other pro-Israel donors on both sides of the aisle. (RELATED: Israeli Leaders Pressure Trump To Move US Embassy To Jerusalem)

“As you know, the president has recently expressed his view that he wants to put a lot of effort into seeing if we cannot advance a peace initiative between Israel and Palestine,” Tillerson told MTP host Chuck Todd. “And so I think in large measure the president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process.”

Adelson disagrees with the notion the embassy move should be tied to progress in the Mideast peace process, sources informed Axios. He has told Trump that Palestinians are intractable negotiating partners who make demands that Israel cannot meet.

Adelson, the chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, has donated tens of millions of dollars to Republican candidates, mostly on the basis of their support for pro-Israel foreign policy. The billionaire is a fierce critic of U.S. efforts to negotiate a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has called Palestinians “an invented people” who want to destroy Israel.

During the presidential campaign, Trump told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that the U.S. “will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem,” reports The Hill. The administration has distanced itself from that assurance and instead has taken a wait-and-see approach as Trump attempts to restart peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. (Trump May Not Move US Embassy To Jerusalem If It Disrupts Peace Process, Tillerson Says)

Tillerson said Sunday that Trump would seek further guidance on the embassy relocation to determine “whether Israel views it as helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction.”

Trump will travel to Israel on May 22 as a part of his first overseas tour.  The administration says he will prioritize peace talks between Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

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