Trump waives law requiring US move its embassy to Jerusalem

Mahmoud Abbas and Donald Trump are shown in Bethlehem on May 23, 2017.

The White House says President Donald Trump made a decision to delay moving the Us embassy to Jerusalem to maximize chances of reaching a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, a close ally of Netanyahu's, told Israel's Army Radio that leaving the embassies in Tel Aviv represents "a surrender to unfair Arab and Muslim pressure". Trump hasn't abandoned his pledge to move the embassy, the White House said, adding that "the question is not if that move happens, but only when".

The move marked a break from a campaign promise that Trump vigorously embraced until he took office last January. As president, Trump has proceeded cautiously, hoping to preserve his ability to serve as an effective mediator for one of the world's most intractable conflicts.

Shifting the U.S. Embassy would be widely seen as Washington's recognition of the Israeli position on Jerusalem's status, which successive U.S. administrations have said must be decided in negotiations between the two sides.

Trump says he's putting off moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv because it could have a negative impact on efforts to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

"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.

Hussam Zomlot, Palestinian ambassador to the United States, also issued a statement.

"We are ready to start the consultation process with the USA administration", he said after Trump's announcement. Trump has stopped promising he will gut the agreement, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said a decision on how to proceed will be part of an Iran policy review now under way.


But many expect that the long-awaited move will still occur and seem to give him the benefit of the doubt on the need to at least delay relocating the USA mission to Jerusalem given the realities of peacemaking in the Middle East.

As regular readers may recall, in 1995, Congress passed a law that would move the United States' Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, but the legislation came with a catch: USA presidents could delay the move for security reasons.

He signed a waiver to defer action on an embassy relocation mandated by Congress in 1995.

INSKEEP: OK. Michele, thanks very much.

Jerusalem's status is one of the most emotionally charged matters separating the Israelis and Palestinians.

At the same time, a lasting peace deal with the Palestinians remains a fantasy of American presidents and diplomats. The Palestinians never controlled Jerusalem, but claim that it is their territory and that Israelis are the "occupiers".

The decision was expected, and comes after he returned from a week-long trip overseas that included stops in Israel and the West Bank. Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed it, a move not recognized internationally.

'Will those who criticized Obama for not moving the Embassy make their voices just as loud and strong?'

"We think the signing of the waiver and the decision taken (Thursday) was a wise decision", said United Nations spokesman, Stephane Dujarric. First, what Trump "heard from Arab leaders, starting with King Abdallah of Jordan (back in February) about the impact such a decision would have on US allies in the region both in terms of how it will affect them domestically but also complicate resetting Arab-US relations".

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