WH says Israel peace hopes sparked embassy delay

A senior Israeli official is expressing disappointment over Trump's decision against relocating the embassy to Jerusalem and is accusing the US of caving in to Arab pressure.

A White House official confirmed Trump renew a waiver to bypass a 1995 law requiring the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, The Hill reported.

"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", the White House statement said.

USA officials say the process of moving the embassy would take at least six months and involve major adjustments in security, office and housing space and staffing at both the existing facility in Tel Aviv and the consulate general in Jerusalem.

But Netanyahu's office said Israel appreciated Trump's statement of "friendship".

Trump's move to renew the waiver came as he faced a Thursday deadline to renew or see the state department lose half its funding for its overseas facilities.

US officials say the process of moving the embassy would take at least six months and involve major adjustments in security, office and housing space and staffing at both the existing facility in Tel Aviv and the consulate general in Jerusalem.

President Donald Trump shares a laugh with (clockwise from left) Ms.Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Secretary Tom Price, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Vice President Mike Pence on.

"Israel's consistent position is that the American embassy, like the embassies of all countries with whom we have diplomatic relations, should be in Jerusalem, our eternal capital".

Israel declared Jerusalem its capital in 1949, but the global community largely recognizes East Jerusalem and the Old City to be part of Palestine.

Of the embassy, Spicer said, "The question is not if that move happens, but only when". As such, Israel opted to lobby for the move quietly, rather than through a major public campaign, because it had turned into a domestic USA issue.

Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would be seen as endorsing Israel's claim to the city and rejecting the Palestinians'.

It says that despite the disappointment, Israel appreciates Trump's friendship and his commitment to moving the embassy to Jerusalem in the future. But the president can waive the law if asserting that a waiver is in USA national security interests.

During his campaign previous year, Trump repeatedly promised he would break with an global convention by moving the embassy to Jerusalem, as Israel had long demanded.

The US embassy in Tel Aviv. Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, a senior member of government, accused Trump of "a surrender" to pressure from Arab and Muslim nations.

Spicer was asked about the issue during his daily press briefing, and despite the fact that the question included the looming deadline, he said that Trump has not yet made up his mind.

One official said that "all parties" - meaning both Israeli and Palestinian leaders - have been notified that the embassy would be staying in Tel Aviv.

Signing the waiver this week forestalls any move for another six months. He was, however, the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall.

Jerusalem's status is one of the most emotionally charged matters separating the Israelis and Palestinians.

  • Leroy Wright