The Latest: Trump decides not to move US Embassy in Israel

AP News
Posted: Jun 01, 2017 8:55 PM
The Latest: Trump decides not to move US Embassy in Israel

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's decision to temporarily delay moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem (all times local):

9 p.m.

President Donald Trump has stepped back from a campaign promise to move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Trump says he's putting off moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv because it could have a negative impact on efforts to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Trump's reversal is a blow to Israeli hard-liners and American supporters who have pushed for the move over the years. Palestinian and other Arab leaders are praising Trump's decision.

Israel considers Jerusalem to be its capital and insists the holy city must not be divided. Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital for a future, independent state.

The White House insists that Trump is merely delaying and not abandoning his pledge to relocate the embassy.


4:10 p.m.

One Mideast analyst says President Donald Trump's decision not to immediately move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem represents a "very traditional approach to Arab-Israeli peacemaking."

Robert Satloff, who runs the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says it's a move that could bring the Israelis and Palestinians "back to the debate," while avoiding anything that might upset either side too much.

But the decision is being denounced in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office says the move has damaged prospects for peace. And Israel's intelligence minister is accusing Trump of a "surrender" to pressure from Arab and Muslim nations.

Palestinian leaders are cheering the move. They say it improves the atmosphere for future negotiations by demonstrating Trump's seriousness.


11:25 a.m.

The Palestinians are praising President Donald Trump's decision not to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, saying it strengthens the chances of peace.

President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeneh (nah-BEEL' ah-boo reh-DAY'-nuh), says the decision is an "important positive step" that illustrates the U.S. seriousness about promoting peace.

The Palestinian ambassador to Washington, Hussam Zomlot, says the move "gives peace a chance."

Zomlot says: "We are ready to start the consultation process with the U.S. administration. We are serious and genuine about achieving a just and lasting peace."

The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as their capital. Israel captured the area from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war and claims all the city as its eternal capital.


11:20 a.m.

Israel's prime minister says the U.S. decision not to move its embassy to Jerusalem has hurt the prospects for peace with the Palestinians.

In a statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said Thursday that it believes all embassies should be in what it called Israel's "eternal capital."

The statement says: "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."

It says that despite the disappointment, Israel appreciates Trump's friendship and his commitment to moving the embassy to Jerusalem in the future.


11 a.m.

Jordan has welcomed President Donald Trump's decision to delay moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to contested Jerusalem.

The pro-Western kingdom had warned that such a move was a "red line" that it would bolster extremists if crossed. 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.

More than half of Jordan's citizens are of Palestinian descent.

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed Momani said Thursday that "we strongly welcome the decision and highly value the message it is sending."

Momani says the president's decision shows "how much the administration values the advice of its allies" and that the focus must be on relaunching serious Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.


10:50 a.m.

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

Cabinet Minister Yuval Steinitz says the refusal to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital makes no sense. Steinitz is a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Steinitz tells Israel's Army Radio station: "I think the time has come to put an end to this farce. Everybody recognizes Israel as the capital of Israel. When Trump comes here, he goes to Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv."

When told that Trump said he will move the embassy later, Steinitz says: "I hope that happens before the Messiah comes."

He said leaving foreign embassies in Tel Aviv is "a surrender to unfair Arab and Muslim pressure."


10:20 a.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump decided to delay moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem to maximize chances of reaching a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

But press secretary Sean Spicer says Trump still intends to move the embassy from Tel Aviv. Spicer says, "The question is not if that move happens, but only when."

Spicer says the six-month waiver Trump signed Thursday shouldn't be considered a retreat from Trump's "strong support for Israel" and for the alliance between the U.S. and Israel. He says pursuing a Mideast peace deal fulfills the president's "solemn obligation to defend America's national security interests."

Trump was facing a Thursday deadline to either waive or comply with a law requiring him to move the embassy.


10:02 a.m.

President Donald Trump has temporarily waived a law requiring the U.S. to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Trump's move to renew the waiver for six months keeps the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv for now. Trump has said he's reviewing whether to fulfill his campaign promise to move it to Jerusalem.

Trump was facing a Thursday deadline to renew the waiver or see the State Department lose half its funding for its overseas facilities. Presidents of both parties have renewed the waiver every six months for years.

Israel considers Jerusalem its capital, but the Palestinians claim east Jerusalem for the capital of a future state.

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