Trump keeps United States embassy in Tel Aviv, for now

Elias Hubbard
June 3, 2017

President Donald Trump renewed a waiver on that keeps the U.S. Embassy in Israel in Tel Aviv instead of moving it to Jerusalem, the White House announced Thursday.

They also say that he made this decision to - in the words of this statement - maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

President Donald Trump signed an order to renew the six-month waiver that allows the USA embassy to remain in Tel Aviv rather than moving it to Jerusalem. "There is no peace deal based on the division of Jerusalem", Minister Naftali Bennett (Ha-Bayit Ha-Yehudi) said in response to President Trump's decision. Both the Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, and King Abdullah of Jordan made it clear to Trump that moving the embassy now would damage possibilities for peace talks.

On the campaign trail, the president promised to "move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people: Jerusalem". They say it improves the atmosphere for future negotiations by demonstrating Trump's seriousness.

President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeneh (nah-BEEL' ah-boo reh-DAY'-nuh), says the decision is an "important positive step" that illustrates the US seriousness about promoting peace. That may well be a reasonable and rational approach, but again, it's exactly why the embassy hasn't been moved since the passage of the 1995 law.

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US officials have said the process of moving the embassy would take at least six months and involve major adjustments in security, office and housing space and staffing at both the existing facility in Tel Aviv and the consulate general in Jerusalem. The majority of United Nations member states do not recognize Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem, and locate their embassies in and near Tel Aviv because of that. The Trump administration now fails to recognize Jerusalem - or the Jewish holy sites within it - as part of Israel.

In May, Vice President Mike Pence said Trump was giving "serious consideration" moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

Trump visited Israel and the Palestinian territories last week, but did not mention a two-state solution in his speeches. But if the United States moves their embassy to Jerusalem, it effectively endorses Israel's claim to Jerusalem, and the Arab world will react with predicable fury. Today was the deadline for the White House to decide whether to move or sign a waiver, and Trump took the path of his predecessors.

Should the USA move its embassy? Most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem was divided between Israeli rule in the west and Jordanian in the east until 1967, when Israel was attacked by allied Arab armies. This is the waiver the president signed Thursday. Only 56 percent of Israeli Jews consider Trump to be pro-Israel, a decline from the 79 percent who felt that way before the inauguration, according to a recent Jerusalem Post poll.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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