Christian leaders urge Trump to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Jerusalem Old City from Mount of Olives. | Wikimedia Commons/Wayne McLean

A group of 60 influential Christian leaders has signed a letter delivered to U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday, asking him to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The letter, which was presented to the president days before his scheduled visit to the Middle East, was an initiative of the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI), an informal network of Christian leaders representing some 60 million Christians in America.

According to Charisma News, it cited the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and called on the government to transfer the U.S. Embassy there by May 31, 1999.

"Sadly, every U.S. President since then has taken advantage of a provision in the law allowing its requirements to be waived for six months if 'necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States.' Such suspensions have been repeated semi-annually for two decades, and it is time to end America's doublespeak," the letter stated.

International Christian Embassy Jerusalem-USA Director Susan Michael expressed her concern that Trump was being advised to delay the efforts to move the Embassy and make it instead as part of the peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis.

"Considering the 24 years of attempted peace agreements by three previous presidents, it is not a good idea to continue waiting. Now is the time to honor our friend and fully recognize Jerusalem as the eternal, undivided capital of Israel," said Michael in a statement, according to The Daily Caller.

Signatories of the ACLI letter include Dr. Jerry Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters; Dr. John Hagee, founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel; Gordon Robertson, CEO of Christian Broadcasting Network; Dr. Charles Stanley, president of In Touch Ministries; Star Parker, president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education; Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America; and Dr. James Dobson, president of Family Talk Radio;

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump had promised to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, but some senior officials in Washington have reportedly advised against it, saying it would be "harmful to the peace process and carry broader regional risks."

Trump will be visiting Israel on May 22 to 23, just after his stop in Saudi Arabia and his trip to the Vatican.

Since the announcement of the president's travel plans, there has been some speculation that he would use the occasion to fulfill his campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But Trump appeared to back off on his promise early in his presidency, and the White House told reporters last week that the president is still undecided on the issue.