Trump said to announce US embassy move, recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital
THOMAS COEX (AFP/Archives)
Israeli officials are reportedly expecting US President Donald Trump to make a landmark announcement in the coming days regarding the move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing the highly-sensitive holy city as Israel’s capital, according to a local TV report on Wednesday.
According to the Hadashot report, the move could take place as soon as Sunday and Trump is instructing officials to prepare for it.
The White House urged caution in response to the report later on Wednesday saying it was "premature" ahead of a decision deadline.
"This is a premature report. We have nothing to announce," said press secretary Sarah Sanders
The report comes just a day after Trump’s vice-president Mike Pence stated that the President was “actively considering” how and when to move the US embassy.
Pence, who is set to visit Israel next month, attended a symbolic re-enactment of the November 29, 1947 UN General Assembly vote, on the eve of its 70th anniversary, where he delivered an effusive speech bolstering the United States’ continued support for the State of Israel.
"The President sent me here with a simple message," he stated. "That under our administration, America will always stand with Israel."
"President Donald Trump is actively considering when and how to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," he told the gathering of UN ambassadors, diplomats and Jewish leaders, evoking a campaign promise that had been sidelined when Trump signed a waiver to delay the move for six months on June 1.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump vowed several times to move the US embassy, which like other international missions is currently located in Tel Aviv because of Jerusalem's disputed status. The promise was a break from typical US policy.
In 1995, Congress made it US policy to move the embassy to Jerusalem, symbolically endorsing Israel's claim on the city as its capital, but the law contained a clause that has allowed each president since to issue and renew a six-month waiver on carrying out the move.
Despite his campaign promises, Trump signed the presidential waiver to delay the move, stating that it was in order to "maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians."
The status of Jerusalem is a flashpoint issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel has declared the entire city as its capital. Most countries have their embassies located in Tel Aviv.
The intention to move the embassy has been welcomed by Israel, but slammed by the Palestinians and many other countries and international organizations as a move that could sink the peace process.
(AFP contributed to this report)
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