Middle East/North Africa

Trump may compromise on Israel embassy: report

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President-elect Donald Trump may soften his pledge to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to a new report.

During the campaign, Trump promised to move the U.S. embassy — a move frequently promised by U.S. presidents, but one with potentially fraught international implications. 

For the short term, Trump’s transition team has instead suggested temporarily splitting America’s diplomatic presence in Israel between both cities instead, CNN reported Tuesday

Under this plan, Trump’s ambassador to Israel would live and work in the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem.

{mosads}The current American Embassy there, meanwhile, would stay in Tel Aviv rather than relocate to Israel’s capital city.

The strategy could avoid the firestorm formally relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem would bring. The plan could create fewer problems with Palestinians who, like the Israelis, consider Jerusalem to be their capital.

Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, a move the U.S. has long not recognized alongside other nations. But the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act calls on the U.S. to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate its embassy there.

The law allows the move to be waived, however, should the president deem it harmful to U.S. national security interests.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush signed the waiver every six months, even as they vowed to move the embassy during their election campaigns.

President Obama, meanwhile, recently renewed the waiver earlier this month, citing “national security concerns.” The waiver expires June 1.

Diplomatic sources told CNN Trump’s ambassador could work out of the consulate in Jerusalem at least until the waiver expires.

Trump could then gauge the reaction that moving the embassy entirely to Jerusalem would have on opinions worldwide.

The president-elect announced last month, meanwhile, he had picked adviser David Friedman as his U.S. ambassador to Israel. Friedman has taken a hard line on Israeli issues in the past, comparing a liberal American-Jewish group to Jews who assisted the Nazis during the Holocaust.

“I intend to work tirelessly to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region, and look forward to doing this from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem,” Friedman said in a Dec. 15, 2016 statement about his nomination.

Tags Ambassadors Bill Clinton Diplomacy Donald Trump Foreign policy Israel Jerusalem Politics Tel Aviv

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