Six months ago, President Donald Trump made it clear he didn’t want his promise to move the U.S. Embassy to an undivided Jerusalem to interfere with a Middle East peace deal, but new reports out of Israel and Washington suggest he’s ready to make the big move.
Israel’s Channel 2 broke the news Wednesday night, stating that sources in the White House said the president would make the announcement today, and that State Department personnel were making the necessary preparations to make the move happen. The president’s announcement, according to that report, suggested he would recognize West Jerusalem, not an undivided Jerusalem, as Israel’s capital—a move that has already been made by Russia.
This kind of move would be seen as having little effect on ongoing peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians because it would leave East Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Western Wall, open for negotiations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, has pressed hard for the president to recognize all of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
A new report Thursday afternoon from The Wall Street Journal suggests that’s exactly what the president will do. With Saudi Arabia—one of the Palestinian Authority’s largest benefactors—supporting the Trump peace initiative, it just may be possible for him to fulfill his entire 2016 campaign promise without shutting down peace negotiations.
While it’s not clear if the embassy move would involve the construction of an entirely new facility in Jerusalem, it is possible to move the diplomatic mission’s headquarters almost immediately. Like many countries, the U.S. operates a consulate in Jerusalem in addition to the official embassy in Tel Aviv.
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