Donald Trump could be about to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as well as announcing the move of the US embassy to the city as early as next week, according to reports in Israel.
A US law passed in 1995 mandates that the US embassy in Israel, currently in Tel Aviv, must be moved to Jerusalem.
However, the same law also gives the president the right to sign a waiver every six months postponing the move on national security grounds.
Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama repeatedly exercised their right to sign the waiver, while Donald Trump did the same in June.
However, Dana Weiss, chief political analyst for Israel’s Channel 2 News, has announced that Israeli officials believe Mr Trump is reluctant to use the waiver again – and that his evangelical Christian supporters are lobbying hard for him to announce official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
She tweeted last night that it was being “estimated as likely by Jerusalem that the President will announce the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, perhaps early next week, and announce the start of preparations for the transfer of the embassy.
“Trump doesn't want to sign the waiver & coming under intense pressure from evangelists.”
Although Israel considers a "complete and united" Jerusalem to be its capital, most other countries do not officially recognise it as such, with their embassies instead being located in Tel Aviv.
In April, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying: "We reaffirm our commitment to the UN-approved principles for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, which include the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. At the same time, we must state that in this context we view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel."
It was unclear from the statement whether Russia had officially recognised west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, or whether this was entirely contingent on a future peace agreement.
Last week the Palestinians vowed to suspend any talks if the US government followed through on a decision to force the closure of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation office in Washington. The Trump administration subsequently backtracked from its original decision, stating that instead of closing the mission, limitations would be imposed on it for a 90 day period.