Hours after ordering preparations for a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, President Donald Trump delayed moving the diplomatic mission to the city by another six months.
Trump signed a proclamation at the White House Wednesday saying the United States sees Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and directing the State Department to start planning an embassy in the city. Soon thereafter, he signed another presidential waiver of a 1995 law requiring the embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Under U.S. President Bill Clinton, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and stating that the embassy should be moved here. However, presidents ever since — from Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Obama — have invoked a waiver written into the law that allows them to postpone the move for reasons of “national security.” As a result, the law has never gone into effect.
Trump referred to this history in his speech announcing the historic shift in U.S. policy on Jerusalem on Wednesday.
“Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace,” he said. “Some say they lacked courage, but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time.”
“While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver,” Trump said. “Today, I am delivering.”
According to the Guardian, White House officials said Trump signed the waiver to avoid a legally stipulated cut in State Department funding until the new embassy is actually opened. They told the newspaper that previous presidents used the waiver to avoid moving the embassy, whereas Trump instructed the start of practical work on the mission.