President Donald Trump is going back on a campaign promise by deciding to not move the US embassy in Israel, the White House confirmed Thursday.
In accordance with a 1995 law passed by Congress, the president is required to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
All of Trump’s predecessors impacted by this law have signed six-month waivers to delay the move, the last of which expired June 1. It appears Trump is also going down this path, as the New York Times reports the president signed a new waiver Thursday.
White House officials cautioned that this is a postponement and Trump still intends to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump made this decision to better negotiate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, according to a White House statement.
“The question is not if that move happens, but only when.”
Trump promised during the campaign to move the embassy to Jerusalem if elected president. This rhetoric has tempered since he took office, though, and Trump did not give Israelis a public endorsement of the move during his recent trip overseas.
Moving the embassy would likely indicate a change in US policy toward recognizing Israel’s claim to a united Jerusalem. Current US policy is that the city’s status should be determined by Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Although Trump signed a waiver, he could still move the embassy after six months, or issue an executive order overriding the waiver before it expires.
Here’s the full White House statement:
While President Donald J. Trump signed the waiver under the Jerusalem Embassy Act and delayed moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the President’s strong support for Israel and for the United States-Israel alliance. 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 interests. But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when.