Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Trump Declines to Move US Embassy to Jerusalem, for Now

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Trump Declines to Move US Embassy to Jerusalem, for Now

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * Stepping back from a campaign promise and incurring Israeli ire, President Donald Trump acted Thursday to keep the U.S. Embassy in Israel in Tel Aviv for now instead of moving it to Jerusalem, a cautious move aimed at bolstering prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.

Trump avoided a step that threatened to inflame tension across the Middle East and undermine a push for peace before it even started. Still, the White House insisted Trump was merely delaying, not abandoning, his oft-cited pledge to relocate the embassy.

"The question is not if that move happens, but only when," said White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

The praise from Palestinian and Arab leaders and the protest from Israelis showed just how far Trump has shifted from the unwavering support for Israel's policies that he expressed during the 2016 campaign. As president, Trump has proceeded cautiously, hoping to preserve his ability to serve as an effective mediator for one of the world's most intractable conflicts.

The decision is a blow to Israeli hard-liners and their American backers who have long urged the United States and others to build their embassies in Jerusalem. Israel considers the holy city to be its capital and insists the city must not be divided; Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital for a future, independent state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said Trump's move had damaged prospects for peace by preserving "the Palestinian fantasy that the Jewish people and the Jewish state have no connection to Jerusalem." Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, a senior member of government, accused Trump of "a surrender" to pressure from Arab and Muslim nations.

Palestinian leaders cheered the move and said it improved the atmosphere for future negotiations by demonstrating Trump's seriousness about the process. …

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