Embassy Move Back on the Table

YERUSHALAYIM -
embassy Israel
The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. (Flash90)

The proposal to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim has emerged again in talks between senior members of the Trump administration and Israeli officials, The Times of Israel reported Monday.

The issue, which was shelved some time ago following strenuous Palestinian and Arab objections, “was brought up by both sides as part of a productive broad conversation about a number of issues,” a U.S. source said, though did not elaborate.

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, peace envoy Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last Thursday during their visit to the region to seek a restart of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

President Donald Trump signed a waiver in June which postponed consideration of the embassy move for at least another six months. Administration sources at the time said it didn’t mean abandonment of the idea, merely a delay.

“Needless to say, the administration’s policy is ‘when not if’” it will be moved, the source said, employing the same terminology used by U.S. officials made at the time of the signing of the waiver.

There were divergent reports, though. On Sunday, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that the matter was not discussed in last week’s meetings, to her disappointment.

“We were told that the move [of the embassy] would go ahead but it wasn’t on the table and there hasn’t been any progress on it. I hope there will be soon,” she said.

However, sources in the Prime Minister’s Office told the Times that Hotovely was misinformed. “She wasn’t in any of the meetings and to put it charitably, she is wrong,” they said.

They confirmed that the issue was discussed but, like their U.S. counterparts, declined to comment on the details of the conversations.