Tel Aviv, Ramallah- US President Donald Trump decided temporarily on Thursday not to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, appeasing the Palestinian Authority but angering Israel.
US officials asserted that the president decided to postpone relocating the embassy. However, he did not retreat from his decision to support moving it to Jerusalem.
During his presidential campaign, Trump had promised Israel that he would move the US embassy, and had even appointed a US ambassador who shared the same position.
But, after assuming power last January, Trump met with high-ranking Israeli and Palestinian officials in Washington and visited the region last week, saying he was committed to trying to reach a solution to the conflict.
And at the first deadline on Thursday, Trump decided to follow the policy of his predecessors Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama by signing a six-month waiver to his Secretary of State not to implement a 1995 law requiring that the embassy be transferred to Jerusalem.
In a statement issued Thursday, the White House said: “No one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the President’s strong support for Israel and for the US-Israel alliance.”
The statement added that Trump made this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
Following Trump’s move, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “disappointed”, adding that the “Israeli consistent position is that the American embassy, like the embassies of all countries with whom we have diplomatic relations, should be in Jerusalem.”
For his part, Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesperson for the Palestinian presidency, welcomed the move, saying: “Trump’s decision not to move the embassy is a positive step that would enhance the chances to achieve peace.”