Report: Trump Will Not Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Quickly

U.S. president's priority is a regional peace deal, MSNBC reports, citing White House sources; 'recognition of Jerusalem sets that back for the next four years.'

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

WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. President Donald Trump was not planning to act quickly on moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, MSNBC reported, citing a source in the administration.

Joe Scarborough, the host of the network's popular morning show, said that Trump's priority in the region was to work towards a Middle East peace deal, according to sources at the White House.

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Joe Scarborough: Trump wont move embassy to Jerusalem anytime soon

"They are not going to move on Jerusalem for quite some time, they want a peace deal in the Middle East, that is their top priority and they have been told under no uncertain terms, that the recognition of Jerusalem sets that back for the next four years," Scarborough said. "So, that's not happening... while they measure out the possibility of actually getting peace in the Middle East."

About Trump administration's intentions of seeking a regional peace agreement, he said: "It's not going to look traditional, it's not going to be Israel across the table from the Palestinians. It's going to be one Arab country after another recognizing Israel's right to exist but that only happens as long as they delay moving the capital to Jerusalem."

Scarborough is known to be in touch with the president himself from time to time. Trump's chief of staff, Reince Priebus, last month said that Scarborough and Trump "speak frequently."

On Sunday, two days after Trump took office, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the administration was "at the very beginning stages of even discussing" moving the U.S embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

White House aides added that no announcement of an embassy move was imminent. 

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A senior Israeli diplomat later on Sunday blamed "prattle and nonsense" by Israeli politicians for what he called a "bad" White house statement.

Last week, a day before Trump entered office, Spicer said at a press conference that details regarding the embassy move - one of Trump's election pledges - will be published "soon" and told the reporters covering the issue to "stay tuned." His statement Sunday, however, shortly before the phone conversation between Trump and Netanyahu, could suggest that it might take some time before more details on the subject are released.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump spoke on the phone on Sunday night. Statements issued by the Prime Minister's Office and the White House did not mention the issue of relocating the embassy and is it not clear whether the two leaders discussed the subject.

During the phone call, the first between the two since the swearing-in of the U.S. president, Trump told Netanyahu that a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians could only be reached through direct negotiations between the two parties, and invited the Israeli premier to visit the White House in February.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II in Amman about the possibility the new U.S. administration would move Washington's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

After the meeting with Abdullah, Abbas said that he and the king had agreed to a list of steps they would take if such a decision is implemented. He said the coordination with Jordan was essential ahead of Abdullah's plans to visit Washington and Moscow in the coming weeks.