Jewish leader reacts to Trump's Jerusalem call

Downplays threat to Americans in Israel

BALTIMORE - Calling it the 'right thing to do', President Trump made a declaration that had eluded Israel since its creation almost 70 years ago.

"Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious---that Jerusalem is Israel's capital."
    
At the Baltimore Jewish Council, where signs declare support for the Jewish state, Executive Director Howard Libit expresses similar support for the president's declaration and his commitment to moving the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

"We certainly appreciate the administration's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel for both the country and the Jewish people,” said Libit, “It has been that way for decades.  This was moving forward with bipartisan legislation that was supported and approved by Congress more than 20 years ago."
    
Still, Libit recognizes while part of the area's Jewish community is celebrating the move, others are concerned.

"There are people who do worry about the timing, who worry about... and I realize that too that, 'Why now?  Why at this time?  Shouldn't it be part of a broader peace agreement?' and you can see that side too,” acknowledged Libit, “As I said, it's very delicate and it's challenged."
    
As for warnings that Americans traveling to Israel could become targets in the aftermath of Trump's declaration, Libit had this to say.

"There's no foreign country you can visit these days that there aren't risks, and you have to be careful.  You have to watch.  Just like when you walk through downtown Baltimore.  You be careful and you watch what you're doing," said Libit, "With our program, the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel, high school students travel to Israel, for example, in the summer, we always evaluate.  We always check.  There was one summer years ago where we said, 'Let's wait and send them the following year.'  At this point, there's no indication we're there.  It's still very early.  The president just made his announcement 24 hours ago.  Hopefully, he will follow this with a plan for peace that might be acceptable.  There's a lot of talk.  I'm optimistic.  I'm eternally optimistic that we will find a way through this."

The president says the U.S. is still committed to the peace process, and he will be sending the vice president to the region in the near future.

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