Trump dithers on moving US embassy to Jerusalem

US embassy in Tel Aviv  photo: Tamar Matsafi

US President Donald Trump did not renew the waiver of the law requiring the embassy in Israel to be moved, but also did not announce that the move would happen. 

US President Donald Trump's plan to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has met opposition from the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) in the State Department, a US administration official told the CNBC financial channel last night. A few hours later, the White House spokesperson announced that the president had deferred the decision on moving the embassy for a few days.

Yesterday saw the expiry of the presidential waiver suspending the law passed by the US Congress in 1995 that calls for the US embassy in Israel to be located in Jerusalem. The law allows the president to delay its implementation for six month periods if he decides that it could hurt the security of the US.

Trump did not sign a renewal of the six-month waiver yesterday, but he also did not announce an intention of moving the embassy, which the law requires him to do in the absence of a valid waiver. The White House spokesperson said, “The president has been clear on this issue from the get-go: it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” adding that a decision would be announced “in the coming days.”

According to the CNBC report, senior NEA officials and US diplomats who have served in the region have expressed "deep concern" over the plan to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. An administration official said that the cause of concern was "security". The State Department has posed questions on the issue to the White House, which has not yet responded.

Another US official said that the consensus in the US intelligence community was that there was a risk that US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital would provoke a severe reaction against Israel and perhaps against US interests in the Middle East.

In the past few days, European and Arab government have exerted pressure on Washington to refrain from moving its embassy and from public recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Israel's ambassador in Washington Ron Dermer said that the White House was about to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, despite Palestinian threats that such recognition would frustrate the opening of talks between them and Israel, which Washington has been trying to bring about. Failure to recognize Jerusalem would be "a farce", Dermer said.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 5, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

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US embassy in Tel Aviv  photo: Tamar Matsafi
US embassy in Tel Aviv photo: Tamar Matsafi
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