U.S. Official: Trump Undecided on Embassy Relocation to Jerusalem, Won’t Move Until After Next Week’s Visit

The official was responding to a Bloomberg News report citing a White House aide who said the president had decided against a move, for now

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, January 10, 2017.
JACK GUEZ/AFP

An American official said on Thursday that President Donald Trump has not yet decided whether to relocate the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and does not intend to decide before completing his visit to Israel next week.

The official, who asked that his name not be published, was reacting to a report in Bloomberg News on Wednesday that cited a “senior White House official” as saying that the U.S. president has decided at this stage not to relocate the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and to sign the presidential order freezing the implementation of the law calling for it.

“Contrary to media reports, President Trump has not yet made a decision on moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and doesn’t plan on making a decision on this issue until after his visit,” the official said in conversation with Haaretz.

The White House aide was quoted in the Bloomberg report as saying that the Trump administration sought to avoid a provocation that could dissuade the Palestinians from peace talks, at a time when progress seems possible.

"We don’t think it would be wise to do it at this time," the official told Bloomberg. “We’ve been very clear what our position is and what we would like to see done, but we’re not looking to provoke anyone when everyone’s playing really nice.”

Israel regards Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all foreign countries to base their embassies there. The relocation is strongly opposed by many U.S. allies, as Palestinians also claim the city as their capital.

Since taking office in January, Trump has shown signs of shelving his campaign pledge to move the embassy from Tel Aviv, while vowing to do what is necessary to clinch a Middle East peace agreement.