President Donald Trump broke one of his major foreign policy campaign promises Thursday, signing a waiver that delays the move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem for at least another six months — the clearest sign yet that Trump is serious about forging what he calls the “ultimate deal” in the Middle East.
In a statement, the White House said Trump signed the waiver to “maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Moving the embassy from its current location in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would effectively kill any possibility of successful peace talks and inflame regional tensions because it would symbolically recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and Palestinians have said they want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state. Israel has controlled the entirety of Jerusalem since the 1967 Six-Day War and claims it as their capital, though that isn’t recognized on the international stage.
The U.S.’s 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act mandated that the U.S. embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by May 31, 1999. However, every president since has signed a waiver delaying the move, citing congressional overreach and U.S. national security interests.