Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Donald Trump Won’t Move Embassy to Jerusalem, at Least for Now

President Trump signed an order keeping the American Embassy in Tel Aviv rather than moving it to Jerusalem as he promised during last year’s campaign, aides said, disappointing many Israel supporters in hopes of preserving his chances of negotiating a peace settlement. Aides said the decision was just a delay and that he still planned to move the embassy to Jerusalem when conditions were right, although past presidents have said the same without ever acting. In a statement issued by the White House, officials said that Mr. Trump’s move should not be considered “a retreat from the president’s strong support for Israel” and its alliance with the United States. “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 interest,” the statement said. “But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that happens, but only when.” Mr. Trump made no mention of his pending decision during a visit to Jerusalem just last week and waited to announce it until almost the last minute he could under law, demonstrating the deep political sensitivity of a city claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians. The order waives for six months a congressional edict requiring the embassy be located in Jerusalem, meaning he will have to consider the matter again by Dec. 1.

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