Trump won’t move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, will keep it in Tel Aviv for now

THE FRONT of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. Will it move to Jerusalem? (Photo credit: REUTERS)
THE FRONT of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. Will it move to Jerusalem? (Photo credit: REUTERS)

President Donald Trump will not use his upcoming trip to Israel to announce plans to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, although he still ultimately wants to take that step, a senior administration official said on Wednesday.

The official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the Trump administration does not want to complicate attempts to nurture a resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by announcing the embassy move.

At a commencement address in Connecticut on Wednesday, Trump made no mention of the issue in advance of his visit to the region next week, but stated that he did plan to “reaffirm his unbreakable alliance with the Jewish state.”

His envoy Jason Greenblatt, who is already in the country, plans to hold talks with Palestinians and Israelis on Thursday as part of Trump’s plan to advance the peace process while in the region.

To support that process the cabinet is expected to approve on Sunday a package of economic incentives for the Palestinians.

US Ambassador David Friedman lowered expectations on what Trump might try to accomplish toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying the president won’t unveil a specific “diplomatic plan” or “road map.”

“The president has clarified that, to start with, he wants to see the parties sitting together and talking without preconditions, with the hope that this will lead to peace,” Friedman said in an interview with Israel Hayom, adding that the United States has not asked for a settlement freeze and the Palestinians have dropped that demand as a precondition for talks with Israel.

“We have no demands for a settlement freeze and Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] wants to meet [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu without any preconditions,” Friedman said.

Trump’s policy on this issue is the opposite of his predecessor’s, asserted Friedman, adding that Trump does not believe that settlements are a stumbling block to peace.

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SOURCE: TOVAH LAZAROFF 
The Jerusalem Post