Trump Delays Final Decision on Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, White House Says

France's Macron tells Trump he's worried about U.S. recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital ■ Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.S. says any Trump move on Jerusalem would hurt the peace process and heighten regional tensions

Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon
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File photo on January 20, 2017 of the U.S. Embassy building in Tel Aviv, Israel.
File photo on January 20, 2017 of the U.S. Embassy building in Tel Aviv, Israel.Credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP
Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration announced on Monday that it has not reached a decision yet on whether or not to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, despite the fact that Monday was the legal deadline for signing a presidential waiver on the matter. A White House spokesperson said that "no action will be taken on the waiver today. We will share a decision on the waiver in the coming days."

Theoretically, the White House's announcement allows Congress to demand the administration to begin moving the embassy, since Trump did not sign the presidential waiver in time. Congress could also cut funding from the State Department if the administration doesn't fulfill its' obligations under the 1995 "Jerusalem Embassy Act." However, it is unlikely that the Republican-controlled Congress would act on this issue in the coming days, which means that Trump has a window of at least a few days to make a final decision on the waiver.

Earlier Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron told U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday that he is worried the U.S. will unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital after speaking with President Donald Trump on the phone, "The French President expressed his concern over the possibility that the United States would unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," according to a statement from Macron.

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"Mr. Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed that the question of Jerusalem's status had to be dealt with in the framework of peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, with the aim in particular to establish two countries, Israel and Palestine, living in peace and security side by side with Jerusalem as capital."

Saudi Arabia said on Monday any U.S. announcement on the status of Jerusalem before a final settlement is reached in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would hurt the peace process and heighten regional tensions.

"Any U.S. announcement on the status of Jerusalem prior to a final settlement would have a detrimental impact on the peace process and would heighten tensions in the region," Saudi Ambassador Prince Khalid bin Salman said in a statement.

"The kingdom's policy - has been - and remains in support of the Palestinian people, and this has been communicated to the U.S. administration."

Macron and Bin Salman's comments come one day after the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan spoke on Sunday with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and warned him against declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move Trump is considering carrying out later this week.

Over the weekend, senior Palestinian officials warned that U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital or the relocation of the American embassy would put an end to peace talks. President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeinah, said Saturday that such a step is a dangerous development that would destabilize the region, while Hamas has called for a popular uprising to thwart such a "conspiracy."

Last week, Jordanian King Abdullah warned the Trump administration and senior members of Congress about the dangers of moving the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The king said during a working visit to Washington that such a move could strengthen terrorist groups across the Middle East and lead to the collapse of any peace initiative currently being planned by the Trump administration. Abdullah met on Sunday with American Secretary of Defense James Mattis in Jordan.

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