Trump hesitates on embassy shift to Jerusalem

Trump avoided a step that threatened to inflame tensions across the Middle East and undermine a push for peace before it even started.

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

"This is in line with the long-held U.S. policy and the worldwide consensus and it gives peace a chance", Hussam Zomlot, Palestinian ambassador to the United States, said in a statement.

"As much as he wanted the move to occur", former U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro wrote on Twitter, "he didn't want it forced when it could disrupt the overriding strategic goal of completing successful negotiations [with] the Palestinians". The Palestinians argue moving the embassy would prejudge one of the most sensitive issues in the conflict, undermining America's status as an effective mediator.

In 1995, the U.S. Congress approved the Embassy Act in Jerusalem, which recognizes the city as the capital of Israel. "The President knows that Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel and we strongly believe that the location of our embassy should reflect that reality", the organization said in a statement. Hussam Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy in Washington, said the move "gives peace a chance". But a United States official said no timetable has been set. But the president can waive the law if asserting that a waiver is in US national security interests. The next test on the embassy will come six months from now, when Trump has to once again decide whether to go forward with the move.

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President Obama signed his final waiver of the Jerusalem Embassy Act on December 1, 2016.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), co-chairman of the House Republican Israel Caucus, said in a Thursday statement that "Jerusalem is absolutely where our embassy belongs", being the locale of not only major religious sites but Israeli government operations.

The sources told Al Araby that Trump showed video clips, which the Palestinians claim had been taken out of context, of Abbas admitting to inciting against Israel.

Taking a harder stance, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a far-right member of Netanyahu's coalition, said delaying the move would "damage the prospect of a lasting peace by nurturing false expectations among the Palestinians regarding the division of Jerusalem, which will never happen".

President Donald Trump had the world on edge Thursday as he neared an announcement on whether he'll keep the U.S.in a global climate pact. Both are in the Old City, part of east Jerusalem.

  • Darren Santiago