Report: President Trump Decided to Waive Embassy Move

YERUSHALAYIM -
The U.S. Embassy building in Tel Aviv. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump has decided not to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim at this time, a report on the NRG news site said Wednesday. President Trump decided to sign a waiver postponing the embassy’s move by at least six months, as all his predecessors have done since 1995, when a law that required the embassy to be moved was passed. The waiver needs to be signed by May 30th; if it is not, the 1995 law goes into effect and the government is obligated to move the embassy. The waiver needs to be renewed every six months.

In a radio interview with Kol Baramah, journalist Ariel Kahane, who broke the story, said that the decision was in line with advice President Trump has been receiving from the State Department, which warned against moving the embassy, lest it set off major rioting in the Arab world. However, Kahane said, the decision may be more connected to a prospective summit President Trump is planning to hold when he visits Israel on May 22nd.

The Kol Baramah report quoted sources in the Prime Minister’s Office as saying that they were not aware of any announcement connected to the embassy move associated with Trump’s visit, but had not received any messages from the White House that the move was off the agenda.

According to a report in the London-based Arabic daily A-shaq a-Awsat, American diplomats have been readying for a three way summit, in which President Trump would meet with Prime Minister Biyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas. At that meeting, President Trump plans to proclaim a major policy initiative, in which he will give the two sides nine months to make a deal, with American help. “It’s possible that Trump is using the embassy move as a ‘carrot’ to make a deal with Israel,” said Kahane. PA sources quoted on Army Radio said that they were not aware of such a meeting, and Israeli officials had no comment.

President Trump promised to move the embassy several times during his presidential campaign, but reports in December and January said that he was “reconsidering” the idea. In an interview with Fox News in late January, President Trump said that it was “too early” to talk about moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim, further feeding speculation that Trump was backing away from his commitment to move the embassy, which he repeated several times during the campaign. With that, President Trump said that relations between Israel and the United States were back on track, with the two countries once again working in tandem on policy. The relationship, President Trump said, “is repaired. It was repaired the minute I spoke to Netanyahu” after he was elected. “We have a good relationship with Israel.”

Speaking with Kol Baramah, former Shin Bet head Ami Ayalon said that President Trump’s announcement was to be expected, even though he did not believe it would set off rioting. “After the second intifada I believe that the Palestinians decided that they had more to lose from such activity than they had to gain,” he said. “I don’t see the energy in the Palestinian street for another intifada today.”