Like the three American Presidents before him, Donald Trump formally signed off on a stay that will prevent the United States Embassy to Israel from moving to Jerusalem, in contradiction to repeated promises from President Trump. However, a statement posted on Thursday to the White House website noted that the promise still lingers. “As he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when,” said the Presidential statement.
As provided for under the U.S. law governing the embassy location, national security interests were cited by President Trump as a reason for the decision, although he also went into some additional detail. “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,” said the White House statement, which gave no timetable or circumstance for when the embassy move might happen. Regardless of whether it’s a permanent no or just a delay, Israel was disappointed by the decision.
“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,” said a statement from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.
“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 decision follows President Trump’s visit to Israel and multiple conversations with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He has publicly promoted the goal of achieving a peace deal between the parties, which haven’t publicly negotiated in years. One of the sticking points is the status of Jerusalem. The Palestinians claim half the city, including the Biblical sections of the capital, the Old City of Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount and Western Wall.
While moving the American embassy to Jerusalem is a controversial move—despite the fact that U.S. embassies are generally in a nation’s self-declared capital city—the reality is that Israel is expected to maintain at least part of Jerusalem in any peace deal, undercutting the debate over the embassy location.
Despite the disagreement between Israel and the Americans over the current embassy location, the two sides promoted their good relationship in Thursday’s statements.
“No one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the President’s strong support for Israel and for the United States-Israel alliance,” said the American statement.
Israel felt similarly. Said their response, “Though Israel is disappointed that the embassy will not move at this time, we appreciate today’s expression of President Trump’s friendship to Israel and his commitment to moving the embassy in the future.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, June 1, 2017)