The following is an excerpt from AFP.com | June 1, 2017 |
President Donald Trump postponed moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem on Thursday, avoiding a provocative step as he tries to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who welcomed Trump to the city last week, expressed disappointment at the delay but made it clear he still values Trump's support.
Palestinian leaders were relieved by a decision that they said "gives peace a chance," and a spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he hoped the "wise decision" would help revive the peace process.
On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly pledged that he would shift the embassy from Tel Aviv to the city claimed as capital by both Israel and its Palestinian neighbors, and he appointed a US ambassador who shares this goal.
But since coming to office in January, Trump has met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders both in Washington and in a visit to the region last week and has committed himself to seeking a long-elusive final peace deal between them.
Congress passed a law in 1995 making it US policy to move the embassy to Jerusalem, symbolically endorsing Israel's claim on the city as its capital.
But the law also allowed each president to issue and renew a six-month waiver on carrying out the move.
On Thursday, the stay came up for renewal for the first time on Trump's watch, and he followed the example of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama in instructing his secretary of state to hold off on the move.