Jeffress: Middle East peace trumps embassy move

A semi-annual presidential act, signing a waiver that maintains America's Israel embassy in Tel Aviv, has become a subject of heated speculation and debate, following Donald Trump's statements of intent - as presidential candidate and as President-elect - to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its state capital, while the Palestinians want East Jerusalem, i.e. the historic part of the city, to become the capital of their future state.

Moving the United States embassy is "something the president supports, something he supported during the campaign, something he still supports", a senior White House official reportedly told CNN before Thursday's signing.

In 1995, Congress passed a law requiring the embassy to be moved to Jerusalem by 1999 or else the State Department's building budget would be cut in half.

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Foreign countries now have their embassies in the Israeli commercial capital Tel Aviv because they do not recognise Israel's unilateral claim of control over all of Jerusalem.

Trump signed a waiver that postpones the embassy's relocation for six months, Efe reported.

"Israel's consistent position is that the American embassy, like the embassies of all countries with whom we have diplomatic relations, should be in Jerusalem, our eternal capital", the Prime Minister said.

During the March Arab Summit held in Jordan, Arab leaders warned against the consequences of such a step on the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis and peacemaking in the Middle East.

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Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all signed the waivers. "Both President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu assured me they are ready to reach for peace", Trump said, recapping his first trip to the region as president.

White House officials cautioned that this is a postponement and Trump still intends to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who welcomed the USA leader to the city last week, expressed disappointment at the delay but made it clear he still values Mr Trump's support.

Israel has claimed the entire, undivided city of Jerusalem as its capital after taking control of its eastern portion of the city in the Six-Day War of 1967.

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