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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Trump delays decision on US embassy in Israel

However, officials have said the US President is likely to give a speech on Wednesday unilaterally recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

US President Donald Trump announced in December 2017 that he would move his country's Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Jack Guez / AFP Photo
US President Donald Trump announced in December 2017 that he would move his country's Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Jack Guez / AFP Photo

President Donald Trump's decision on whether to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will not come by a Monday deadline, the White House said.

"The president has been clear on this issue from the get-go: It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when," said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley hours before the administration's decision was due.

Mr Trump was theoretically due on Monday to decide whether to sign a legal waiver delaying by six months plans to move the US embassy to Jerusalem - as successive administrations have done at regular intervals for more than two decades.

"No action though will be taken on the waiver today and we will declare a decision on the waiver in the coming days," Mr Gidley said.

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Read more:

Arab League: Moving Israel's US embassy to Jerusalem will boost 'fanaticism'

Trump likely to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital next week

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Senior US officials have said that Mr Trump is expected to issue a temporary order, the second since he took office, to delay moving the embassy despite his campaign pledge to go ahead with the controversial action.

But the officials have said Mr Trump is likely to give a speech on Wednesday unilaterally recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a step that would break with decades of US policy and could fuel violence in the Middle East. They have said, however, that no final decisions have been made.

Palestinian leaders have been lobbying desperately against the relocation of the embassy, while the armed Islamist movement Hamas has threatened to launch a new "intifada".

Western leaders have also expressed concern about the decision.

In a phone call to Mr Trump on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron “reaffirmed that the status of Jerusalem must be resolved through peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,” France’s embassy to the US said in a statement.