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Disputes Arise between Netanyahu, Trump over Relocation of US Embassy | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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FILE PHOTO – The front of the U.S. embassy is seen in Tel Aviv, Israel January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

Tel Aviv – The plan to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Western Jerusalem has turned into a public dispute between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the US Administration.

Four months after US President Donald Trump took office and one week before his visit to Israel, Israeli officials are calling on him to fulfill a promise made during his presidential campaign to acknowledge Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move the US embassy to it.

The dispute arose when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the president was being “very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process.”

Days before the US president starts a Middle East trip that includes meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Tillerson told NBC channel that Trump’s decision would depend greatly on how it is seen by governments in the region, including “whether Israel views it as being helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction.”

Netanyahu’s office quickly responded, saying in a statement issued on Monday: “Israel’s position has been stated many times before to the American administration and the world.”

“Moving the American embassy to Jerusalem will not harm the peace process, it will do the opposite. It will advance it by righting a historical wrong and by shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel,” the statement added, as reported by Reuters.

Just before the end of his tenure, former US President Barack Obama renewed a six-month waiver pushing a decision on whether to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

In his letter, Obama said he determined that it is “necessary” for national security to once again delay implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.

However, the six-month extension of the waiver will end on the first of June, leaving Trump before two choices: either to extend it or to allow for the embassy relocation.