Yerushalayim (Andrew Friedman/TPS ) – Sources close to the White House predicted that the president will sign a controversial waiver to keep the embassy on Hayarkon Street in Tel Aviv for another six months despite calls by many of his supporters for relocation.
Sources close to the administration said the president is likely to sign the waiver, but they added that the White House has asked them to “remain patient.” Republican activist and Alon Shvut resident Ruth Jaffe-Lieberman wrote on social media that she had confirmed with the White House at the beginning of the week that the waiver would be signed along with the request that “we remain patient” and added that she expects the move to occur by the fall.
If Trump signs the waiver, he will become the fourth consecutive president to block the implementation of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. The law specifies that the American embassy in Israel should be located in Jerusalem, but provides the executive branch with the prerogative of delaying the move for six months should the president determine that the move would damage US “national security interests.” Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all pledged to move the embassy to Jerusalem, but routinely blocked the move.
The status of Yerushalayim has been a signature issue for Trump since he emerged front-runner for the Republican nomination in early 2016. In contrast to his predecessors, Trump’s pledge about the embassy to last year’s annual AIPAC policy conference included a reference to the city as the “eternal capital of the Jewish people.” More recently, Trump last month became the first sitting US president to visit the Kosel, a move condemned by some Palestinians as “recognition of Israel’s sovereignty” over the holy site.
For that reason, Trump supporters appear to view the embassy issue as an important one, but not the only one that indicates the president’s approach to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In recent months, sources close to the administration have told TPS that the president was prepared to move the embassy as his first act after taking office, but delayed the move following pressure from Israeli officials. Palestinian officials, including Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen and chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, both warned that moving the embassy would “end the peace process,” while Hamas warned of an outbreak of violence if the embassy were to be moved.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took the reports seriously enough to hold security briefings on the issue during the days before Trump’s inauguration.
Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu) told Army Radio on Thursday that moving the embassy would be a welcome and important gesture, but not a critical one.
“Trump is a supportive president and he has taken some steps as president that were very important to the State of Israel,” Galant said. “After eight years of President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, who embraced Iran and pushed away moderate Sunni forces, which worked against both American and Israeli interests, Trump came in and restored things during his first 100 days in office to the way they should be – an American alliance with moderate Sunni states, pushing away ISIS, al-Qaeda, Iran, Hezbollah, and others.”
“We’ve waited 69 years, we can wait 70,” Galant concluded.