Trump reviews option to move US embassy to Jerusalem

AFP , Wednesday 31 May 2017

US President Donald Trump will decide on Thursday whether to renew a legal waiver that delays an eventual move of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Any decision to move the US mission from Tel Aviv to the city claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as their capital would be controversial.

Trump's administration has sent mixed signals over its intent, heightening tensions in a region where a new outbreak of unrest is rarely far away.

Congress passed a law in 1995 making it US policy to move the embassy to Jerusalem, symbolically endorsing Israel's claim on the city as its capital.

But the law contained a clause that has allowed each president since to issue and renew a six-month waiver on carrying out the move.

US officials told AFP they expect Trump to renew the waiver once again on Thursday, but none were willing to go on the record in case he changes his mind.

During his campaign for office, Trump expressed support for moving the embassy and has appointed a strong supporter of such a move as his ambassador to Israel.

But he did not renew this call -- which would anger many Palestinians and neighboring Arab states -- when he visited Jerusalem last week on his first foreign trip.

Jerusalem was divided between Israeli rule in the west and Jordanian in the east until 1967, when Israel attacked several Arab countries.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank since then.

It later annexed east Jerusalem in amove never recognised by the international community.

Israel has illegally settled more than 400,000 Jews in east Jerusalem and the occupied West bank.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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