President Donald Trump has followed through on a campaign promise to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel, and a minister confirms a group of evangelical leaders urged him to take action.
On Wednesday, President Trump announced that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and pledged to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Past presidents have declared those same intentions – in fronto of Jewish audiences no less – but Trump surprised some political observers with his announcement.
Some others, meanwhile, weren't surprised at all.
"This is something that has come up in our discussion repeatedly," confirms Bishop Harry Jackson, who sits on the evangelical advisory board along with well-known leaders such as Robert Jeffress, James Robison, Ralph Reed and
The advisory board, Jackson adds, "vigorously" lobbied Trump to follow through on his campaign promise and the President was influenced by that counseling.
Tony Suarez, another member of the council, acknowledged the council's influence in a story published by Think Progress, the far-left website, which suggested that "Christian Zionism" is behind the evangelical effort.
Another left-wing claim is that Evangelicals support the move in order to hasten End Times prophecies and a literal Armageddon, reported left-wing Israeli newspaper Haarretz, citing a Duke University professor among others.
A common biblical teaching in evangelical churches, however, is that Israel is simply the rightful owner of the historic land, which includes its historic capital, and both were given to the nation by God.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the Latino Evangelical Association, who also sits on evangelical council, says its leaders have also been advising President Trump on other Jewish-related issues, including the controversial divestment movement on college campus, and the history of UN antagonism toward Israel.
"Jerusalem," says Rodriguez, "is a win for the nation, for the Jewish people. It's a win against anti-Semitism and it's a win for the evangelical community."
The announcement also comes as President Trump is about to send Jared Kushner, his son-in-law advisor, to push for an Israel-Palestinian peace process.
According to Rodriguez, it's no accident that the President made the historic announcement this week when Kushner is headed to the Middle East, because the goal is a long-talked about "two-state solution."
Some political observers are predicting the Jerusalem announcement could be a way for the Trump administration to reassure Israel if such negotiations get under way in the coming months.
Vice President Mike Pence is also set to visit Israel in coming days.