Published: Fri, June 02, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

United States embassy in Israel not being relocated to Jerusalem, for now

United States embassy in Israel not being relocated to Jerusalem, for now

Stepping back from a campaign promise and incurring Israeli ire, President Donald Trump acted Thursday to keep the U.S. Embassy in Israel in Tel Aviv for now instead of moving it to Jerusalem, a cautious move aimed at bolstering prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.

Senior administration officials told the Washington Free Beacon that Trump remains "committed" to ultimately relocating the US embassy, but has chose to hold off in the short term in order to appease the Palestinians-who also claim the ancient city as their own-and try to make progress in Middle East peace talks.

"President Trump made this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America's national security interest", the White House said in a statement Thursday.

Congress passed a law in 1995 making it United States policy to move the embassy to Jerusalem, symbolically endorsing Israel's claim on the city as its capital.

Following the signing of the waiver, Netanyahu said in a statement that he found Trump's move disappointing, and that "maintaining embassies outside the capital drives peace further away by helping keep alive the Palestinian fantasy that the Jewish people and the Jewish state have no connection to Jerusalem". But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when.

Pro-Israel officials in Washington, D.C., have quietly begun to express frustration with the Trump administration in recent weeks following a series of controversies over the administration's position on moving the embassy, as well as the refusal by some senior officials to say that Jewish holy sites are located in Israel proper. Hussam Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy in Washington, said the move "gives peace a chance".

The Palestinians are praising President Donald Trump's decision not to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, saying it strengthens the chances of peace.

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He said the US could try to re-enter the deal under more favorable terms or work to establish "an entirely new transaction". Trump claimed before taking office that climate change was a "hoax" created by the Chinese to hurt the USA economy.

The U.S. and others say the status of the city should be resolved in peace negotiations. "We are serious and genuine about achieving a just and lasting peace".

Jerusalem's status is one of the most emotionally charged matters separating the Israelis and Palestinians. Israel captured the area from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war and claims all the city as its eternal capital.

The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Trump had been up against a Thursday deadline to either certify the USA had opened an embassy in Jerusalem or see the State Department lose half its funding for overseas facilities.

Today, Gilboa says, the average Israeli is more interested in the U.S. finally allowing Israelis to travel to the U.S. visa-free - so they won't have to go through arduous visa questioning at the U.S. Embassy, no matter which Israeli city it's located in.

Abdullah in particular expressed deep concern that moving the U.S. Embassy would spark unrest among his country's large Palestinian population.

"We are disappointed that the president has not yet followed through on his pledge to move the embassy, and we hope that he does so soon", it said.

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