At his press conference on January 23, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined to commit the Trump administration to quickly moving the embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the capital of the Israeli state. While President Donald Trump said during his campaign that he would move the embassy, the administration is now expressing some caution.
"If it were already a decision, then we wouldn't be going through a process," said Spicer at his first press briefing. "His team is going to continue to consult with stakeholders as we get there." This closely tracks both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who had also once promised to move the embassy before ultimately changing their minds.
Muslim governments, including Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, have reportedly warned the Trump administration of severe consequences if the move should take place. They also warned that violent repercussions might ensue.
Back in March, Trump told the assembled American Israel PAC: "We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem." That was a commitment that he repeated throughout the campaign. "The Palestinians must come to the table knowing that the bond between the United States and Israel is absolutely, totally unbreakable," he said.
President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke via telephone on January 22, but no mention was made of the embassy relocation.
A delay in the move may allow the Trump administration to consider what it would cost in the struggle against Muslim terrorists and the Islamic State. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, is leading a Middle East peace initiative. Spicer said at the press briefing, "We're at the very early stages of that decision-making process."
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