Published: Fri, June 02, 2017
World News | By Penny Hart

Trump expected to delay US embassy move to Jerusalem

Trump expected to delay US embassy move to Jerusalem

President Trump has signed a waiver that will delay a move of the USA embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the White House said Thursday.

The 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act requires the US Embassy to move to Jerusalem, but every US president since then has signed a six-month waiver delaying the decision.

"No one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the President's strong support for Israel and for the United States-Israel alliance", the White House said in a statement.

The same official said that while Trump may not authorize the move this week, the President still envisions moving the embassy at some point.

Spicer says the six-month waiver Trump signed Thursday shouldn't be considered a retreat from Trump's "strong support for Israel" and for the alliance between the US and Israel.

The official added that even should Trump keep the embassy in Tel Aviv for now, he may act to move it to Jerusalem in the future.

For nearly 70 years, the US embassy has been based in Tel Aviv - along with embassies of almost all other countries with relations to Israel - because the USA has wanted Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations to determine the final status of Jerusalem.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the major stumbling blocks. "We are serious and genuine about achieving a just and lasting peace".

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"We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem", Trump said in his address to the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee a year ago.

A senior Israeli official is expressing disappointment over Trump's decision against relocating the embassy to Jerusalem and is accusing the USA of caving in to Arab pressure.

Moving the embassy is "something the President supports, something he supported during the campaign, something he still supports", the official said.

Efforts to move the embassy from the coast of Tel Aviv to the holy city have surfaced periodically since at least the early 1980s. He says pursuing a Mideast peace deal fulfills the president's "solemn obligation to defend America's national security interests". The Prime Minister's Office awaited the speech with a mix of anticipation and trepidation, but discovered that the opponents won out, and the embassy move was dropped from the speech.

Trump is the 45th President of the United States. During the campaign, it was Friedman who, in interviews with both the American and the Israeli media, repeatedly stressed Trump's promise to move the embassy. The long-standing USA position is that Jerusalem's fate must be worked out through Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Trump was facing a Thursday deadline to renew the waiver or see the State Department lose half its funding for its overseas facilities.

"We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem", he said in a March 2016 speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Under pressure from Arab leaders and others, Trump followed the lead of past presidents of both parties who have waived the law in six-month stretches.

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