National Security

REPORT: White House Preparing Plan For Embassy Move To Jerusalem

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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The White House is developing a plan to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in the future, a move that would make good on one of President Donald Trump’s signature foreign policy promises.

The administration has begun to notify embassies overseas about the plan so diplomats can work with host country officials on security issues and prepare for protests, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing U.S. officials.

Officials cautioned that none of the plans have been finalized, but said a formal announcement could happen as early as next week.

A law enacted by Congress in 1995 recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and says the American embassy should be located there. But the law also gives the president the authority to postpone the relocation of the embassy to “protect the national security interests” of the U.S. Since the law was passed, all presidents have all exercised the waiver authority to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv.

Trump issued a six-month waiver in June, meaning he will have to decide the issue again by Dec. 1. The administration has recently signaled that it will go forward with the move, despite concerns that it could ignite additional violence throughout the Middle East and derail peace talks between Israel and Palestinians.

Vice President Mike Pence told a gathering of Israeli and Jewish American leaders on Tuesday that Trump was “actively considering” how to orchestrate the move.

One possibility that has been floated is to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, but postpone the actual embassy relocation for several years, reports the WSJ.

The administration had originally planned to announce the embassy move to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem after the Six Day War in 1967. Trump demurred after King Abdullah of Jordan and other Arab leaders protested that it would destabilize their governments.

Since Trump issued the waiver in June, he has come under intense pressure from the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as pro-Israel U.S. lawmakers, to carry out the move.

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