Trump Expected to Delay Embassy Move, but Recognize Jerusalem as Israel's Capital

By signing the presidential waiver, Trump will break his campaign promise on the matter for the second time since taking office

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and U.S. First Lady Melania Trump, sit during the 95th Annual National Christmas Tree Lighting in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017.
Al Drago/Bloomberg

WASHINGTON –  U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign a presidential waiver delaying the move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, breaking his campaign promise on the matter for the second time since entering the White House.

But a senior administration official said Friday that Trump is likely to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital in a speech on Wednesday. The White House has remained officially mum on the subject. 

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Trump's decision, which would be in line with long-standing American policy, breaks an election promise he made to move the embassy to Jerusalem, the second president to break such a promise after George W. Bush.

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The waiver has been signed by every U.S. president since 1995, and is valid for six months at a time. Former U.S. President Barack Obama signed it during the last weeks of his term. Trump signed it himself for the first time last June, prompting praise from the Palestinians and disappointment from Israel.

The LA Times reported on Thursday that Trump is likely to sign the waiver again, but that at a recent discussion on the subject, he expressed anger about having to do so, and stated that postponing the move indefinitely is "unacceptable." The report also said that Trump asked his aides to prepare a plan of how to eventually move the embassy, even if such a move would not be carried out immediately.

Only this week, Vice President Mike Pence said that Trump is actively considering how to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. "As we speak, President Donald Trump is actively considering when and how to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," Pence said at an event marking the 70th anniversary of a United Nations vote that called for the establishment of Israel.

A dominant figure who in the past pushed for the embassy move is U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. During the election campaign, it was Friedman who, in interviews with both the American and the Israeli media, repeatedly stressed Trump’s promise to move the embassy. Last December, when Trump appointed him as ambassador, he said he would work to strengthen ties between America and Israel, “and look forward to doing this from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”