Trump dashes Israel's hope of moving capital to Jerusalem
Jun 03 2017 by Desiree Burns
President Trump has signed the waiver delaying the move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to a White House official. Trump's move breaks a campaign promise to supporters but defuses regional tension in the Middle East between Israel, the Palestinians and neighboring countries.
Under the passage of the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, the president must sign a waiver every six months to delay the move of the embassy to Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said Trump's move had damaged prospects for peace by preserving "the Palestinian fantasy that the Jewish people and the Jewish state have no connection to Jerusalem".
A week before his presidential inauguration, Donald Trump sat down with the Times of London, which asked, "Is it true you're going to move the American embassy [in Israel] from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?" He says pursuing a Mideast peace deal fulfills the president's "solemn obligation to defend America's national security interests".
"This is in line with the long-held U.S. policy and the global consensus and it gives peace a chance", Hussam Zomlot, Palestinian ambassador to the United States, said in a statement.
During last year's election campaign, Trump had vowed to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel.
Not many rightwing groups have issued statements. The longstanding USA position is that Jerusalem's fate must be worked out through Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as their capital.
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One senior administration official said the final decision hasn't been officially made, but that paperwork to both keep the embassy in Tel Aviv and move it to Jerusalem has been presented to the West Wing for Trump's approval.
U.S. officials said they expect Trump to renew the waiver once again on Thursday, but none were willing to go on the record in case he changes his mind.
Israel considers Jerusalem its capital, but the Palestinians claim east Jerusalem for the capital of a future state.
Mr. Trump made no mention of his pending decision during a visit to Jerusalem just last week and waited to announce it until nearly the last minute he could under law, underscoring the deep political sensitivity of the matter.
Moving the embassy is "something the President supports, something he supported during the campaign, something he still supports", the official said.
"The president is still committed to moving the embassy", one US official said.
"One of the things we realized early on was that so numerous policies related to current day Israeli government activities in the occupied territories have roots going back to the very first year of occupation", said Lior Yavne, founder and director of Akevot.