Trump signs waiver keeping USA embassy in Tel Aviv

After much anticipation, President Trump has chose to postpone his campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

USA officials say the process of moving the embassy would take at least six months and involve major adjustments in security, office and housing space and staffing at both the existing facility in Tel Aviv and the consulate general in Jerusalem.

Israel's prime minister says the US decision not to move its embassy to Jerusalem has hurt the prospects for peace with the Palestinians.

The Jerusalem Embassy Act passed by Congress in 1995 mandating relocation of embassy to Jerusalem allows the president to waive the requirement in accordance with United States national security interests.

Of the embassy, Spicer said, "The question is not if that move happens, but only when".

Experts had been cautioning the administration that the move could jeopardize prospects for revived Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, and lead to possible violence, which is why Mr. Trump's predecessors in the White House have also signed the waiver to delay the relocation of the embassy.

Signing the waiver this week would forestall any move for another six months.

"As much as he wanted the move to occur", former U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro wrote on Twitter, "he didn't want it forced when it could disrupt the overriding strategic goal of completing successful negotiations [with] the Palestinians". Despite that, most experts are skeptical of Trump's chances for achieving a peace deal that eluded other U.S. presidents. Both are in the Old City, part of east Jerusalem.

But Netanyahu's office said Israel appreciated Trump's statement of "friendship".

According to several people familiar with the administration's internal debates - both in Israel and America, all of whom asked to remain anonymous - the group urging Trump to refuse to sign the waiver and finally move the embassy is headed by Bannon himself.

A senior administration official told CNN Thursday that the embassy will move when conditions are right.

A relocation of the United States embassy is "something the president supports, something he supported during the campaign, something he still supports", the official told CNN. The Prime Minister's Office awaited the speech with a mix of anticipation and trepidation, but discovered that the opponents won out, and the embassy move was dropped from the speech.

Some of Trump's top aides have pushed for him to keep his campaign promise, not only because it would be welcomed by most Israelis but to satisfy the pro-Israel, right-wing base that helped him win the presidency.

The U.S. says its policy on Jerusalem hasn't changed and that Jerusalem's status must be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians.

  • Tracy Klein