PM’s Office: ‘Disappointed But Hopeful’ Over U.S. Embassy Decision

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

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office said in a statement Thursday night that despite Israel’s “disappointment” that President Donald Trump has decided not to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim, Israelis appreciate “the words of friendship that the president has expressed and his commitment to moving it in the future.”

President Trump signed a waiver Thursday that will keep the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv for at least another six months. During his campaign, President Trump insisted that the embassy would be moved. In a statement, the White House said that despite the decision, “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. 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.”

In its statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said that “Israel’s solid stance on the matter is that the American embassy, like all other embassies, should be located in Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital. Leaving embassies outside of Jerusalem causes the chances for peace to recede and contributes to Palestinian fantasies that there is no connection between the Jewish people, the Jewish state, and Jerusalem.”

In contrast, the office of Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas praised the decision. PA spokesperson Nabil Abu-Rudeineh said that the decision was a “positive and important step that will advance the cause of peace and the construction of bridges of understanding. We are prepared to continue our cooperation with President Trump and his administration in order to achieve a just and lasting peace.”

Opposition head Yitzchak Herzog also expressed disappointment at the decision. “Moving the embassy is something that is necessary,” Herzog said, adding that “Prime Minister Netanyahu learned another lesson today – that there are no shortcuts, and that anyone who wishes international recognition must make brave choices for peace. What President Trump understands, I hope that Netanyahu has begun to absorb, 50 years after Jerusalem’s reunification.”

Commenting on the matter, Education Minister Naftali Bennett said that “peace based on the division of Jerusalem is impossible. Postponing the embassy move will actually make peace more difficult to achieve, as it raises the false expectations of Palestinians that the city will be redivided. Only full recognition of Jerusalem as a unified city will pave the way for true peace with our neighbors.”