President Donald Trump signed a waiver Thursday to keep the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, avoiding a move to Jerusalem for an additional six months.
Trump administration officials say he was still in favor of relocating the embassy but was being cautious not to provoke the Palestinians amid a renewed U.S.-led push for Israeli-Palestinian peace accords.
Moving the U.S. embassy is “something the President supports, something he supported during the campaign, something he still supports,” a senior White House official reportedly told CNN before Thursday’s signing. “If he signs the wavier this week, that will not be indicative of him reversing his opinion, it will just be a question of timing. It will be when, not if.”
Donald Trump Promises To Move Embassy From Tel Aviv To Jerusalem
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday, “Israel’s consistent position is that the American embassy, like the embassies of all countries with whom we have diplomatic relations, should be in Jerusalem, our eternal capital.”
He added, “Though Israel is disappointed that the embassy will not move at this time, we appreciate today’s expression of President Trump’s friendship to Israel and his commitment to moving the embassy in the future.”
After Congress passed the ‘Embassy Act in Jerusalem’—in 1995—authorizing the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, every president since then has avoided implementing the move and signed the waiver twice a year, citing national security concerns.
During his 2016 electoral campaign, Trump signed a pro-Israel pledge initiated by the Christian Zionist organizations, the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), calling for, among other things, the embassy to be relocated to Jerusalem.