Donald Trump has decided not to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to Israeli media reports.
Mr Trump promised during his election campaign to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem, which Israel considers its capital. At the Aipac conference in March 2016, he told an audience of thousands of pro-Israel activists that if he were to be elected, "we will transfer the US embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem”.
However, according to NRG, a website affiliated with Israel’s Maariv newspaper, Mr Trump has changed his mind within the last few days, and has informed Benjamin Netanyahu of his decision. Mr Netanyahu has been vocal in encouraging the US to relocate its embassy, telling his cabinet in January that “our position has always been that the US embassy should be in Jerusalem”.
Although Israel considers Jerusalem its capital, most other countries who have diplomatic relationships with it have taken an ambiguous stance, with most having their embassies in Tel Aviv. Although the US Congress passed a law in 1995 that an undivided Jerusalem should be considered Israel’s capital and that the US embassy should be moved to the city no later than May 1999, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama all made use of a clause in the bill which allowed them to exercise a regular six-monthly veto over the embassy move. It now appears that President Trump has decided to follow suit.
Mr Trump’s pick as the new US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has made no secret of his belief that an undivided Jerusalem should be considered Israel’s capital and that the US embassy should be moved there. However, earlier this week the Israeli Foreign Ministry was misled into retweeting a message from a fake Twitter account purporting to be that of Mr Friedman, which said that the ambassador was hoping to “work out of Jerusalem very soon”. The US embassy in Israel and the Israeli embassy in Washington subsequently informed the Ministry that the account was fake.