Trump delays moving US Embassy to Jerusalem for now

Earlier in the day, Trump renewed a waiver that will temporarily keep the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv instead of moving it to Jerusalem, which Israel considers its capital city.

Trump was facing a deadline today to renew the waiver or see the State Department lose half its funding for its overseas facilities.

An official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Trump had signed a legal waiver that keeps the embassy in Tel Aviv, but insisted this was delay not a reversal. Both the Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, and King Abdullah of Jordan made it clear to Trump that moving the embassy now would damage possibilities for peace talks.

The office said that it still appreciated Trump's expression of friendship and promise to move the US embassy in the future. Hours before he was to reveal his decision on the climate pact, Trump chose to temporarily leave the embassy in Tel Aviv.

The 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act requires the U.S. Embassy to move to Jerusalem, but every president since then has signed a six-month waiver delaying the decision.

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At a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February, Trump said the issue of embassy relocation was being considered "with great care". Each side stakes claims to a city that plays a central role in Judaism, Islam and Christianity. This was pleasing to the contingent of hard-line Israelis (and Americans who hold hard-line beliefs about Israel) who believe that Jerusalem is Israel's one true capital.

But since coming to office in January, Trump has met with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Washington and in a visit to the region last week and has committed himself to seeking a long-elusive final peace deal between them. Trump's decision came hours after administration officials said he was considering pulling the USA out of NAFTA altogether.

Israeli Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Environmental Protection, Ze'ev El-Kin, has excluded Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem from a plan he prepared to improve hygiene and the quality of environment in Jerusalem, Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported yesterday.

"Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem would not only not harm the peace process, rather the opposite".

Trump has yet to make his decision official but is required by law to act by Friday, according to one USA official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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