Middle East

President Trump signs waiver delaying US Embassy move to Jerusalem

Delaying and not abandoning. That’s the White House’s message about moving to the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

President Trump signed a waiver Thursday delaying the move for six months, saying it could have a negative impact on efforts to promote peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said President Trump stands by his promise to move the embassy, saying it’s “not if that move happens, but when” adding that delaying the move shouldn’t be considered a retreat from Trump’s “strong support for Israel” and the alliance between both countries.

But some Israeli officials are disappointed that President Trump, at least for now, is not following through on his campaign promise to move the embassy.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office released a statement reading that the American embassy should be located in Jerusalem “our eternal capital” and that maintaining embassies outside the capital “drives peace further away by helping keep alive the Palestinian fantasy that the Jewish people and the Jewish state have no connection to Jerusalem.”

The Prime Minister’s office also added that, while disappointed by the decision, “we appreciate today’s expression of President Trump’s friendship to Israel and his commitment to moving the embassy in the future”.

The 1995 law mandates the relocation of the embassy, but gives presidents the power to delay the move based on national security grounds.

The most recent waiver was signed by President Obama, and expired June 1. Without renewing it, the US would be legally responsible to move to embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The next deadline is in December.

Palestinian leaders, meanwhile, lauded President Trump’s decision to sign the waiver.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the decision is an “important step” that illustrates the United States’ seriousness about promoting peace. The Palestinians consider East Jerusalem as their capital.

President Trump visited Israel last week, meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian Authority President Abbas in Bethlehem, discussing the resumption of peace talks. President Trump did not, however, make any public comments about the embassy issue. 

John Huddy is a Jerusalem-based foreign correspondent for Fox News.