WASHINGTON (JTA) — Newt Gingrich said he would move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem on his first day in office as president.
"Israel has every right as a sovereign, free nation to choose its own capital, and we should respect that choice," Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said Sunday in an address to the Republican Jewish Coalition. "As president, on my first day in office, I would issue an executive order directing the U.S. embassy in Israel to be moved to Jerusalem as provided for in the legislation I introduced in 1995."
Gingrich’s speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition was his first since his top staff resigned en masse last week, throwing into doubt his viability as a candidate for the Republican 2012 presidential nomination.
Gingrich made a joking aside to the resignations, saying he’s had "some reminders" in recent weeks of the ups and downs of campaigning. His staffers reportedly were unhappy with his resistance to their advice and his refusal to dive into the day-to-day grind of campaigning.
In his RJC speech, Gingrich said Israel was more vulnerable than ever in part because of the Western failure to confront terrorism — a failure he said has been exacerbated by Obama administration policies.
"The president’s decision to adopt a policy of accommodation, using the political objectives and code words of those who wish to drive Israel into the sea, affirms the administration’s radicalism in its headlong flight from the legacy of U.S. presidents from Truman to Bush, and is leading Israel and the Western democracies toward ever increasing danger," he said.
"We first need to acknowledge that 20 years of trying to negotiate peace with evil regimes and organizations dedicated to the destruction of Israel, and in many cases our own destruction, has been a failure, and the time has come to clearly and decisively take the offensive against them."