Trump dashes Israel's hope of moving capital to Jerusalem

Stepping back from a campaign promise, President Donald Trump on Thursday decided not to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, at least for the next six months.

But after Trump entered the White House, he and his aides began to realize the fragile situation that surrounds any possible peace talks in the Middle East. Jordan is the custodian of a major Muslim holy site in east Jerusalem, an area captured and annexed by Israel in 1967 and sought by Palestinians as a capital. "For him, it is a matter of when not if the USA embassy is moved to Jerusalem". During that time, some 246 Palestinians died by Israeli fire; Israel has said a lot of them were attackers.

Although Trump's move keeps the embassy in Tel Aviv for the foreseeable future, the White House said the president wasn't abandoning his repeated pledge to move it. Press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump was merely delaying the move while the administration tries to advance a new peace process.

"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", it explained.

Of the embassy, Spicer said, "The question is not if that move happens, but only when".

However, Netanyahu said he hopes the USA embassy will eventually move to Jerusalem and that he appreciates the US president's expression of friendship. They haven't wanted to take sides on the issue, so they've kept their embassies in the Tel Aviv area. According to that plan, Jerusalem - with its religious sites revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims - would not be part of either state, but would be governed by an worldwide body.

Trump's move to renew the waiver for six months keeps the USA embassy in Tel Aviv for now.

The U.S. says its policy on Jerusalem hasn't changed and that Jerusalem's status must be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians.

And Israelis seemed to have gotten used to that reality, says Eytan Gilboa of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, a center-right think tank in Israel.

Moving the embassy is "something the President supports, something he supported during the campaign, something he still supports", the official said.

"The campaign promise is that the United States is going to take this action and that it is a question of when and not if", the official said.

  • Leroy Wright