U.S. President Donald Trump's controversial move on Jerusalem has received strong opposition from the U.S. public, including Republicans, a survey has revealed.
According to a new poll conducted by the University of Maryland, The Middle East and Russia: American attitudes on Trump's foreign policy, found that a strong majority of Americans (63 percent), including 44 percent of Republicans oppose moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Interestingly, the poll, which was conducted last month, suggests that an overwhelming majority of Americans, 81 percent, including 71 percent of Republicans, favor President Trump relying on experts for Middle East diplomacy instead of his son in law and former lawyer.
"Among Democrats, those who want the U.S. to take neither side of the conflict have grown to 77 percent from 69 percent last year, while the number of those who want to take Israel's side outright has dropped to only 13 percent, from 17 percent. In contrast, a majority of Republicans, 58 percent want the U.S. to take Israel's side," the report said.
The poll also revealed that 57 percent of Democrats want to see sanctions or "more serious action" over Israeli settlement construction, while 43 percent of Americans support imposing sanctions or more serious actions.
The competing claims to East Jerusalem, the section of the city captured by Israel in 1967, have frequently boiled over into deadly violence over the years.
East Jerusalem is home to the city's most sensitive Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, as well as its 330,000 Palestinian residents.
The U.S. has never endorsed Israel's claim of sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem and has insisted its status be resolved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiation.
The mere consideration of Trump changing the status quo sparked a renewed U.S. security warning Tuesday. America's consulate in Jerusalem ordered U.S. personnel and their families to avoid visiting Jerusalem's Old City or the West Bank and urged American citizens, in general, to avoid places with increased police or military presence.
Trump, as a presidential candidate, repeatedly promised to move the U.S. Embassy. However, U.S. leaders have routinely and unceremoniously delayed such a move since President Bill Clinton signed a law in 1995 stipulating that the U.S. must relocate its diplomatic presence to Jerusalem unless the commander in chief issues a waiver on national security grounds.
Key national security advisers, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, have urged caution, according to officials, who said Trump has been receptive to some of their concerns.
According to a Reuters report on Tuesday, several U.S. officials had said on condition of anonymity that news of the plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital had kicked up resistance from the State Department's Near Eastern Affairs Bureau (NEA), which deals with the region.
"Senior [officials] in the NEA and a number of ambassadors from the region expressed their deep concern about doing this," said one official, saying that the concerns focused on "security."
Another U.S. official said the consensus the U.S. intelligence estimates on the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital was that it would risk triggering a backlash against Israel and also potentially against U.S. interests in the Middle East, the Reuters report added.
Also quoted in the same report, Daniel Benjamin, a former U.S. counterterrorism official now at Dartmouth University, had a simple message: "This is playing with fire."
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