Trump holds off on move of U.S. em­bassy to Jerusalem.

Pres­i­dent in­sists the de­lay is a tem­po­rary one

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY S.A. MILLER

Pres­i­dent Trump put on hold Thurs­day a prom­i­nent cam­paign pledge to move the U.S. em­bassy in Is­rael to Jerusalem, sign­ing a waiver that keeps it in Tel Aviv while in­sist­ing it is only a tem­po­rary de­lay.

The White House said that the pres­i­dent was close to ad­vanc­ing Mid­dle East peace talks and thought it was a bad time to move the em­bassy, which would pro­voke Pales­tinian out­rage, anger Arab al­lies in the re­gion and roil the peace process.

U.S. law calls for the em­bassy to be moved to Jerusalem, a dis­puted city but Is­raelis say it is the coun­try’s real cap­i­tal. But the law al­lows the pres­i­dent to waive the move tem­po­rar­ily for na­tional se­cu­rity rea­sons. Every U.S. pres­i­dent since the 1950s has signed the same waiver every six months, but Mr. Trump had vowed that he would be dif­fer­ent and put the al­liance with Is­rael above all else.

But ad­min­is­tra­tion’s hopes of bro­ker­ing an Is­raeliPales­tinian peace ac­cord took prece­dence when Mr. Trump weighed whether to ap­prove the em­bassy move.

“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,” the White House said in a 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,” said the White House.

On the same day the White House was an­nounc­ing the waiver, Is­rael’s fi­nance min­is­ter was with the Pales­tinian Prime Min­is­ter Mah­moud Ab­bas in the West Bank city of Ra­mal­lah, the first such meet­ing be­tween se­nior Is­raeli and Pales­tinian of­fi­cials in Ra­mal­lah since 2014, when U.S.-me­di­ated peace talks col­lapsed, The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported.

Still, the an­nounce­ment dis­ap­pointed Is­raeli lead­ers and Mr. Trump’s pro-Is­rael con­ser­va­tive sup­port­ers at home who ral­lied to his call on the cam­paign trail to move the em­bassy to “the eter­nal cap­i­tal of the Jewish peo­ple.”

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer used the oc­ca­sion to taunt Mr. Trump and his sup­port­ers.

“As some­one who be­lieves that Jerusalem is the un­di­vided cap­i­tal of Is­rael, I am deeply dis­ap­pointed in Pres­i­dent Trump’s de­ci­sion,” said the New York Demo­crat. “Will those who crit­i­cized Pres­i­dent Obama for not mov­ing the em­bassy make their voices just as loud and just as strong when it comes to Pres­i­dent Trump’s fail­ure to move the em­bassy?”

The dead­line for a de­ci­sion on the waiver was Thurs­day. Mr. Trump will face the de­ci­sion again De­cem­ber 1.

The em­bassy is­sue came up dur­ing Mr. Trump’s visit last week to Is­rael, where Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu re­port­edly prod­ded him to keep his prom­ise and Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas warned of dire con­se­quences if he did.

Is­rael has long ad­vo­cated for re­lo­cat­ing the em­bassy to Jerusalem, its cap­i­tal. But the city also is where Pales­tini­ans want to put the cap­i­tal of their fu­ture state.

Dur­ing the cam­paign, Mr. Trump de­scribed the em­bassy move as a cor­ner­stone of his plan to re­store the close al­liance with the Jewish state that he said had been badly strained by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“We will move the Amer­i­can em­bassy to the eter­nal cap­i­tal of the Jewish peo­ple, Jerusalem. And we will send a clear sig­nal that there is no day­light be­tween Amer­ica and our most re­li­able ally, the state of Is­rael,” Mr. Trump said in a speech to the Amer­i­can Is­rael Public Af­fairs Com­mit­tee last year dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial race.

In Is­rael, Mr. Ne­tanyahu took the blow grace­fully. “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,” the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice said in a state­ment.

Su­san Michael, direc­tor of the In­ter­na­tional Chris­tian Em­bassy in Jerusalem, said her or­ga­ni­za­tion was dis­ap­pointed, but grate­ful that the pres­i­dent still wanted to even­tu­ally move the em­bassy.

“He heard from many Chris­tian lead­ers and vot­ers over the last month urg­ing him to make the move and he will un­doubt­edly con­tinue to hear from us,” she said. “This is the year to right a his­toric in­jus­tice and to place the U.S. Em­bassy in the cap­i­tal of Is­rael — our strong­est ally in the en­tire Mid­dle East and the only coun­try in the world that we do not rec­og­nize their cap­i­tal.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Mov­ing the U.S. em­bassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was one of Pres­i­dent Trump’s prom­ises dur­ing his cam­paign. On Thurs­day, Mr. Trump signed a waiver that keeps the em­bassy in Tel Aviv. He says the de­lay is tem­po­rary.

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