Trump will not announce promised embassy move during Israel trip
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has decided he will not announce plans to move the US embassy to Jerusalem during his trip to Israel next week, two administration officials told CNN Wednesday.
Trump promised during his presidential campaign to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and his decision to at least delay any such move represents a setback for his conservative supporters who hoped Trump would make good on his pledge.
White House officials were considering announcing the US’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the embassy to the city during the President’s trip there next week. One administration official who spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity said there are no longer any plans to make such an announcement.
Bloomberg first reported the President’s decision.
The decision comes as top officials at the State Department, Pentagon and in the intelligence community warned Trump against the bold move, explaining that it could hurt chances of restarting peace talks between Israel and Palestinians.
Trump reached the decision after he was warned that moving the embassy could aggravate his nascent efforts at rebooting the peace process at a time when the US has seen encouraging initial signs from the Israelis and Palestinians.
Arab diplomats have also conveyed their concerns to Trump and his top advisers on the issue in recent months. And King Abdullah of Jordan personally appealed to Trump earlier this year not to move the embassy, warning of negative regional repercussions.
The two administration officials who spoke to CNN stressed that while Trump has no immediate plans to announce the move, he was not ruling out the possibility in the future.
Several previous US presidents have promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem, but none have followed through on the pledge.
Despite the warnings from the all corners of the US foreign policy establishment, some of Trump’s aides, including the President’s chief strategist Steve Bannon, urged Trump to make good on his campaign promise and make a bold announcement during his visit to Jerusalem next week.
Trump has signaled as recently as January that he was inclined to keep his promise on Jerusalem, telling a conservative Israeli newspaper the day before his inauguration: “You know, I’m not a person who breaks promises.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hinted at the internal debate over Jerusalem during an appearance Sunday on “Meet the Press.”
Tillerson said Trump has taken a “deliberative approach to understanding the issue itself, listening to input from all interested parties in the region, and understanding, in the context of the peace initiative, what impact would such a move have.”
“The President has recently expressed his view that he wants to put a lot of effort into seeing if we cannot advance a peace initiative between Israel and Palestine,” Tillerson had said. “And so I think in large measure the president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process.”
By Jeremy Diamond and Elise Labott, CNN