June 1 (UPI) — The White House on Thursday said President Donald Trump delayed moving the United States’ Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Trump delayed the Embassy’s move for at least six months by waiving the Jerusalem Embassy Act.
“While President Donald J. Trump signed the waiver under the Jerusalem Embassy Act and delayed moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the president’s strong support for Israel and the United States-Israel alliance,” the White House said in an emailed statement. “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. But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the Embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when.”
Trump faced a deadline of Thursday to renew the waiver or to possibly see the U.S. Department of State lose half of its funding for overseas facilities if the Embassy was not moved to Jerusalem.
The U.S. Department of State for decades — through Democratic and Republican administrations — has insisted the status of Jerusalem, which both Israelis and Palestinians claim as their rightful capital, is a matter that needs to be resolved through a peace agreement. No country has an embassy in Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem Embassy Act passed by Congress in 1995 requires that the Embassy be moved to Jerusalem, but Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama declined by waiving the law every six months, citing national security reasons.