Chris Matthews Is Not Happy Trump May Finally Move U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Amidst the discussion on MSNBC’s Hardball late Tuesday concerning President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to lead the State Department, host Chris Matthews was apoplectic at the notion that a Trump administration would “desecrate” Jerusalem by moving the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. 

Matthews emphasized that such a move could single-handedly cause the entire Middle East to “blow up” as well as anger Muslims by “desecrat[ing]” the holy sites for both Jewish and Muslim people.

While speaking to Democratic Senator Chris Murphy (Conn.), Matthews unloaded his dismay that Trump could harm “the hopeful capital of a Palestinian state”:

Why are we moving the embassy to — to Jerusalem at a time that the whole place over there could blow up? Why do we something that's right in the face of the Palestinians, right in the face of the Jordanians, the Saudis, the Egyptians. The one thing they say is leave you know, the Dome of the Rock alone, leave are — the hopeful capital of a Palestinian state alone. Don't desecrate it by saying it's the capital of Israel at this point? 

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Murphy attempted to explain that Trump could go the way of George W. Bush and decide not move the embassy upon taking office. However, Matthews wasn’t buying it: “But you don't do it. You say you're going to do it to pander a little bit. Fine, that's politics. But you don't actually do it. Doesn't Trump know this?”

Later on, Matthews again brought up Israel while debating Tillerson’s merits with conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt. Before allowing Hewitt to respond, Matthews argued how the move would please Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but result in becoming a net negative for the U.S. [emphasis mine]:

Does he understand when you're trying to cut a deal with the Saudis and you're trying to deal with the Saudis and the Jordanians and al-Sisi in Egypt and the Emirates you're trying to cut something with the quartet over there, and then you move the American embassy to Jerusalem right in their face. The one thing they've always said, please don't do, because we care about that holy site as much as the Jewish people do. Don't take sides. What happens then? Does he not understand the importance of this fragile deal we have over there.

The relevant portions of the transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on December 13 can be found below.

MSNBC’s Hardball
December 13, 2016
7:15 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Why are we moving the embassy to — to Jerusalem at a time that the whole place over there could blow up? Why do we something that's right in the face of the Palestinians, right in the face of the Jordanians, the Saudis, the Egyptians. The one thing they say is leave you know, the Dome of the Rock alone, leave are — the hopeful capital of a Palestinian state alone. Don't desecrate it by saying it's the capital of Israel at this point? 

DEMOCRATIC SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY (Conn.): Well, George Bush said —

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Why are we doing it? 

MURPHY: Well, remember, George Bush said he was going to do it —

MATTHEWS: They all do it for political reasons.

MURPHY: — up until he made a decision not to move the embassy. 

MATTHEWS: But you don't do it. You say you're going to do it to pander a little bit. Fine, that's politics. But you don't actually do it. Doesn't Trump know this? 

MURPHY: Well, he hasn't done it yet and I don’t think we know what of this rhetoric is going to turn into reality. 

MATTHEWS: Would you fight it? Would you fight it? 

MURPHY: I’ll see the proposal he makes. I don't think it's the right moment to do it. 

MATTHEWS: Thank you very much.

(....)

7:46 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Does he understand, Hugh, I'll get into a fight with you, because I know it's coming. Does he understand when you're trying to cut a deal with the Saudis and you're trying to deal with the Saudis and the Jordanians and al-Sissi in Egypt and the Emirates you're trying to cut something with the quartet over there, and then you move the American embassy to Jerusalem right in their face. The one thing they've always said, please don't do, because we care about that holy site as much as the Jewish people do. Don't take sides. What happens then? Does he not understand the importance of this fragile deal we have over there.

HUGH HEWITT: Before he took over Russian operations, he ran Yemen operations, which is like going to an Apache country in 1890 so I think he has got great depth in the region, but like you, I have never seen him on television. I've never actually heard him.

NB Daily Foreign Policy Israel/Palestine Middle East Conservatives & Republicans Religion Christianity Islam Judaism MSNBC Hardball Video Government & Press Rex Tillerson State Department Chris Matthews Donald Trump Benjamin Netanyahu
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