Mississippi Public Broadcasting

Mississippi Leaders On Jerusalem Embassy Opening

By Ezra Wall

Mississippi's Congressional Delegation is responding to the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. MPB's Ezra Wall reports.

Mississippi's newest U.S. Senator calls Jerusalem "the cultural and political center of Judaism." Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith posted the comment online, where she says she applauds President Donald Trump's decision to move the American embassy in Israel there from Tel Aviv. Hyde-Smith is a Republican. Mississippi's lone congressional Democrat disagrees. Congressman Bennie Thompson calls the move political.

"We have stepped in a hornet's nest. In my humble opinion, the President is playing politics," says Thompson. "By moving it, he is catering to a faction in Israel that's not everyone."

Other Mississippi Republicans are also backing the President's play. Fourth District Congressman Stephen Palazzo took to Twitter to thank the president for "keeping your promise to the American people." Senator Roger Wicker calls Jerusalem Israel's "rightful capital," saying he previously supported bipartisan legislation to move the embassy there.

Congressman Thompson says Israeli and Palestinian disagreement over Jerusalem should be worked out diplomatically.

"I think the best way to do things is to sit in a diplomatic environment and work through the challenges," says Thompson.

Palestinians have been protesting the U.S. Embassy move along the Israeli/Palestinian border. 59 Palestinians have died in those protests. A United Nations human rights group has criticized what it calls "disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force" on the part of Israel.