President Donald Trump may not move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem if it impedes any peace process between Israel and Palestine, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told NBC News Sunday.
“The president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact the peace process,” Tillerson declared. Tillerson’s comments follow Trump’s repeated campaign pledge that he would move the embassy to Jerusalem. Such a move is diplomatically sensitive because both Israel and Palestine recognize Jerusalem as their rightful capital.
The U.S. Congress passed a law in 1995 requiring the government to move the embassy to Jerusalem, but all presidents have signed a waiver to the law since former President Bill Clinton endorsed it. Tillerson specified that Trump would seek guidance from Israeli leaders on “whether Israel views it as helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction.”
“Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem would not only not harm the peace process, rather the opposite. It would advance it by amending a historic wrong and by shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem isn’t the capital of Israel,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement following the interview.
Trump will travel to Israel May 22 on his first foreign tour where he will prioritize the beginnings of peace talks between Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Trump has previously expressed his desire to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling it the “ultimate deal.”
“As a deal maker, I’d like to do … the deal that can’t be made. And do it for humanity’s sake,” he declared shortly after his election.
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