President George W. Bush has delayed for another six months moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, citing national security interests, the White House said on Monday.
Congress enacted legislation in 1995 calling for the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem, but the president can postpone the move every six months due to national security interests. The waiver has been used every six months since the law was passed.
Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel considers the entire city as its capital.
There are no embassies in Jerusalem. El Salvador and Costa Rica were the last countries to transfer their embassies to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem, announcing their decisions in August.
"My administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem," Bush said in a memorandum to the secretary of state dated Dec. 15.
"Moving our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem now would complicate our ability to help Israelis and Palestinians advance toward peace and the president's two-state vision," a White House official said on condition of anonymity.