Members of Southern Arizona’s congressional delegation were split along party lines in their reaction to President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to relocate the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Two-term U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, who represents District 2, applauded the announcement, saying the embassy should be moved to the Israeli capital in the next two years. The retired Air Force colonel said it finally makes good on a promise made by Congress in 1995 to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

“By relocating our embassy to Jerusalem, President Trump is doing what our country should have done two decades ago: fulfill our promise to our ally and formally recognize the Jewish State of Israel’s undivided capital,” the Tucson Republican said. “I applaud the President’s decision, which sends a strong and clear message to the international community that we are beginning a new chapter in our alliance, one in which America keeps our promises towards Israel and doesn’t waffle about where our true allegiance lies.”

U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, who represents District 3, called the announcement by the Trump administration a provocation that will serve as a roadblock to the Mideast peace process.

“This approach is opposite of moving toward a solution for peace between Israel and Palestine, and only serves as an act of provocation, fueling an already dangerous situation in the Middle East,” the Tucson Democrat said. “His decision harms decades of work to make Israel and the region more secure and should be immediately reversed.”

U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran, who represents District 1, said the decision could lead to renewed violence in the Mideast.

“I am concerned that the hasty decision made by the President will make long-term peace in the region more difficult to achieve, and the threat of increased violence is real,” said the Sedona Democrat, whose vast district includes a northern portion of Pima County. “I encourage President Trump and Secretary Tillerson to engage our international partners in this discussion.”

McSally, along with U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, who represent Arizona’s District 8, are cosponsors on legislation that would require the United States to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem by 2019.

Sen. John McCain, a Republican, said while he agrees with the President that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, moving the embassy is a mistake until a lasting peace deal can be reached.

“I have long believed that Jerusalem is the true capital of Israel. However, issues surrounding the final and permanent status of Jerusalem must ultimately be resolved by Israelis and Palestinians as part of an internationally supported peace process,” McCain said. “That is why today’s policy announcement, as well as any future relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, should be part of a comprehensive diplomatic strategy in coordination with regional partners to achieve peace and security between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Sen. Jeff Flake’s office did not return calls seeking comment on the decision.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson


Reporter with the Arizona Daily Star. I cover politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona.