Sunday, 17 December, 2017

Donald Trump delays moving US embassy to Jerusalem

Kelley Robertson | 04 June, 2017, 06:37

US law has required the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem since the Clinton era.

US President Donald Trump has signed a waiver to delay relocating the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, the White House says.

At the same time, a lasting peace deal with the Palestinians remains a fantasy of American presidents and diplomats. The White House says the promise is still a promise, though.

Al-Omari who served as an adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team during the 1999-2001 said if the embassy move were to happen at this time, "it would have probably provoked anti-US sentiment in the region and possibly sparked (public) demonstrations". By contrast, evangelical Christian voters were most prone to voice optimism: Thirty-nine percent said it was likely, although 48 percent still cast doubt. "I would urge the president to follow through on this campaign promise, like, yesterday".

One official said that "all parties" - meaning both Israeli and Palestinian leaders - have been notified that the embassy would be staying in Tel Aviv. "I'd love to see that happen", Trump said at a February press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, a senior member of government, accused Trump of "a surrender" to pressure from Arab and Muslim nations. The State Department, however recommended against an embassy move, one USA official said.

In a memorandum to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump said that "it is necessary, in order to protect the national security interests" of the United States.

"We are ready to to start the consultation process with the U.S. administration", Zomlot said.

Trump had faced a Thursday deadline to determine how to proceed.

Every president since 1995 has signed the waiver leaving the embassy in Tel Aviv, as stipulated in the Jerusalem Embassy Act. Since 1999, the deadline of the original act, every USA president has singed the waiver every six months. The legislation included a caveat that the president could indefinitely delay the move by signing a six-month waiver, citing national security concerns. The latest waiver, signed by Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, expired on Thursday.

INSKEEP: OK. Michele, thanks very much.

During the March Arab Summit held in Jordan, Arab leaders warned against the consequences of such a step on the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis and peacemaking in the Middle East. Each side stakes claims to a city that plays a central role in Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Trump promised during the presidential campaign that he would relocate the US diplomatic facility.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967.

KELEMEN: That's right. And so the fate of Jerusalem has become known as a final status issue in this peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.

"Israel's consistent position is that the US Embassy, as well as the rest of the embassies, should be in Jerusalem", Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

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