US President Donald Trump signs waiver keeping US embassy in Israel in Tel Aviv

June 1, 2017 10:30 pm

President (L) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem al-Quds on May 23, 2017. (AFP photo)

US President Donald Trump has temporarily waived a law by Congress requiring the US Embassy in Israel to move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds, reversing a promise he made during his presidential campaign.
“While President Donald J. Trump signed the waiver under the Jerusalem Embassy Act and delayed moving the US 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 -Israel alliance,” the White House said in a statement.
“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,” the statement added.
Trump was facing a Thursday deadline to renew the waiver or see the US State Department lose half its funding for its overseas facilities.
The Jerusalem Embassy Act was passed by Congress in 1995 for the purposes of initiating and funding the relocation of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.
But the law has never been implemented. Every president since 1995 has signed a waiver to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv due to “national security interests.”
Trump had vowed during his presidential campaign that he would move the US Embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds, a step that would enrage Palestinians and create an international furor.

Then US presidential candidate Donald Trump addressing the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, DC, on March 21, 2016. (Getty images)

Most of the world does not recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital and the city is considered occupied territory.
Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds and the Gaza Strip, with East al-Quds as the capital.
They are also demanding that Israel withdraw from the Palestinian lands occupied in a 1967 war. The Tel Aviv regime, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of al-Quds.
Palestinians welcome US move
A Palestinian official has welcomed Trump’s decision not to move the US embassy.
“This is in line with the long-held US policy and the international consensus and it gives peace a chance,” Hussam Zomlot, Palestinian ambassador to the , said in a statement on Thursday.
“We are ready to start the consultation process with the US administration. We are serious and genuine about achieving a just and lasting peace.”
Israel disappointed at Trump
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed his regret at the decision of Trump to sign the waiver.
“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.
“Despite the disappointment at the lack of transfer of the embassy at this time, Israel appreciates President Trump’s friendship and his commitment to the subsequent transfer of the embassy,” the statement concluded.
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