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Republicans celebrate opening of US embassy in Jerusalem
Perkins noted that Donald Trump himself was initially confused by the connection between America's evangelicals and Israel. The issue came up during a recent meeting at the White House.

  The opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem attracted more than a dozen Republican members of Congress, two billionaire GOP fundraisers and the president’s eldest daughter, putting on a display of political muscle and Republican unity rare for the Trump era.

Even as it sparked deadly protests in the Mideast, President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem united a cross-section of the GOP. It injected new energy into the evangelical movement, which has long wanted the embassy moved because of the deep religious significance of the area. And it pleased big donors and allowed Trump to claim another campaign promise kept.

“Above all else, we’ve shown that the United States of America will do what’s right. And so we have,” declared Trump’s chief Mideast adviser, son-in-law Jared Kushner. The celebration underscored the power of the evangelical wing of the party, which has set aside early skepticism of Trump to deliver some the president’s most loyal _ and rewarded _ backers. The outpouring of support Tuesday, initiated by a president who isn’t steeped in the complex issues, even surprised some of the movement leaders.

“This is one thing that’s most visible, tangible, recognizable by the evangelical community,” said Tony Perkins, who leads the social conservative Family Research Council. “It’s actually taken me aback a bit to see just how strongly this is received.” At an Israeli Independence Day celebration In Washington, Vice President Mike Pence said Trump had done more to bring the U.S. and Israel “closer together in a year than any president in the past 70 years,” and called him “the greatest defender the Jewish state has ever had.” “President Trump made history now,” he said.

Top officials with the Republican National Committee, along with a delegation of four Republican senators, 10 Republican congressmen and one Republican governor, cheered Kushner from the gallery. The RNC’s new finance chair Tom Ricketts attended. The GOP’s most powerful political donor, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, watched from the front row minutes earlier as Ivanka Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin unveiled the embassy’s new facade.

“I did it for my constituents _ their love and affection for the people of Israel,” said Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., who organized the US delegation’s visit. He was also pleased by the Adelson family’s reaction. “Just to see their joy was a moment of happiness for me,” Wilson said of Adelson, who in recent days donated $30 million to a super PAC focused on helping the House GOP retain its majority this fall. Amid this week’s parades and receptions across Israel, however, partisan divisions back home were rising to the surface.



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