Trump waives law requiring US move its embassy to Jerusalem

However, Nathan Thrall, the International Crisis Group's senior analyst on Israel/Palestine, speculated that Netanyahu may actually want the embassy to remain in Tel Aviv for now.

But the White House suggested the embassy would eventually be relocated. And Trump won't have much space to breathe on this issue. But I hope it's the last waiver, allowing the move later this year. "The delay in the transfer of the embassy actually makes it hard for real peace because it fosters a false expectation among the Palestinians to divide Jerusalem, which will never happen". Israel has controlled the entirety of Jerusalem since the 1967 Six-Day War and claims it as their capital, though that isn't recognized on the global stage. The Prime Minister's office responded saying that "the existence of embassies outside the capital distances peace since it contributes to the revival of the Palestinian illusion that the Jewish people and state have no connection to Jerusalem".

Palestinian leaders are cheering the move. Trump had said as a candidate that the Paris climate accord, signed by almost 200 countries in 2015, would cause job losses in the U.S.

Trump had faced a Thursday deadline to determine how to proceed.

The statement said that despite disappointment that that the embassy will not be moved, "Israel appreciates the friendly words of President Trump and his commitment to move the embassy to Jerusalem at a later date". But the president can waive the law if asserting that a waiver is in USA national security interests.

The trio reportedly convinced the president that moving the embassy would unnecessarily inflame tensions with America's Arab allies.

"For all the rhetorical flourishes, the president is conducting a very traditional approach to Arab-Israeli peacemaking", said Robert Satloff, who runs the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Successive US administrations have insisted that Jerusalem's status must be decided in negotiations. Each side stakes claims to a city that plays a central role in Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

In January Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wrote to his USA counterpart to warn him that the symbolic move would trigger violence in the Territories - and perhaps the wider Middle East - describing the scenario as potentially "opening the gates of hell".

On Thursday, the waiver came up for renewal for the first time on Trump's watch, and he followed the example of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama before him in instructing his secretary of state to hold off on the move. Both are in the Old City, part of east Jerusalem.

Israel fought back and its victory left it in control of East Jerusalem. Only 56 percent of Israeli Jews consider Trump to be pro-Israel, a decline from the 79 percent who felt that way before the inauguration, according to a recent Jerusalem Post poll. The long-standing USA position is that Jerusalem's fate must be worked out through Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Barring a last-minute surprise, Trump is expected to renew the waiver.

Trump's maneuver comes the same week that Israel marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War that resulted in the liberation of Jerusalem from occupying Jordanian forces.

The White House has indicated Trump had not yet made a final decision.

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As a candidate, Trump promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem, which was required by an act of Congress in 1995 but which successive administrations have delayed with a series of six-month waivers, citing national security concerns.

  • Anthony Vega