Trump Didn’t Move the US Embassy to Jerusalem—but He Still Might – The Atlantic

“It was decided that letting the waiver expire but not moving was a little too cute,” this source said.

“Obviously people who have very strong views on this issue, Nikki Haley, David Friedman, they haven’t been shy and the president listens to them,” said the senior White House official, adding that there was “discussion up until the end” of whether this was the right moment.

Another senior White House official said they were not aware of a last-minute debate on this issue.  

Trump returned this past weekend from his first trip abroad, which included a stop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories where he met with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. Trump has pledged to revive the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process, talking about how he wants the “ultimate deal.”

Even before the trip, Trump was facing pressure to keep the status quo; according to a source briefed on the conversation, Jordan’s King Abdullah leaned on Trump not to move the embassy when he came to Washington in February, saying such a move could destabilize Jordan.  One of the senior White House officials said that “The King did offer his thoughts on the waiver when he visited Washington.” Another official added that “The Jordanians have been pretty clear on their position on this.”

Trump’s decision to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv for now will annoy his supporters on the pro-Israel right, who have been pushing for this, but the decision doesn’t come as a surprise.

“Trump is not the first friend of Israel in the White House to sign the waiver,” said Shalom Lipner, a Brookings scholar who served from 1990-2016 in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office. “Inevitably, other considerations intrude. Israelis are disappointed, but largely unsurprised. But there is a constituency, comprised mostly of Trump supporters, who genuinely believed that he would make good on his promise to move the embassy in his first few months; for them, this is a rude awakening.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s office released a statement on Thursday saying that Israel is “disappointed” but that it appreciates Trump’s “friendship to Israel and his commitment to moving the embassy in the future.”


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