Image 01 Image 03

Trump delays U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem

Trump delays U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem

The Jerusalem Embassy move once again is held hostage to Palestinian threats.

Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

The U.S. Embassy is in Tel Aviv, and a consulate in Jerusalem.

Trump promised during the campaign to “move” the Embassy to Jerusalem. A physical move isn’t actually needed, the Jerusalem Consulate could simply be redesignated at the Embassy. Most of the diplomats enjoying their beautiful beachfront views in Tel Aviv could stay there.

As Prof. Miriam Elman explained in a prior post, locating the Embassy in Jerusalem would have a profoundly positive impact on the prospects for peace, since it would signal that Arab and Muslim threats of violence against the Jewish presence in Jerusalem would be futile, Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, for peace sake:

relocating the embassy allows the Trump administration to reinforce that, unlike the Obama administration, it doesn’t consider settlements the key obstacle to peace. Trump will be particularly keen to make this distinction after the U.S. abstention on Friday’s United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 – which effectively declares illegal all Israeli presence beyond the 1949 armistice lines, including east Jerusalem.

Since before even taking office, Trump has faced a barrage of threats of violence from Palestinians if the Embassy relocated, Palestinian leadership: There will be violence if U.S. moves Embassy to Jerusalem:

It was an extremely well-orchestrated campaign both at the leadership and terror levels, Palestinians already planning terror campaign if U.S. Embassy moves to Jerusalem. It also was a two-faced move, Palestinian leadership’s two-faced Jerusalem Embassy game:

We reported the other day on the escalating campaign by Palestinian leaders threatening and predicting violence if the U.S. moves our embassy to Jerusalem, Palestinian leadership: There will be violence if U.S. moves Embassy to Jerusalem.

While Hamas is behind some of the incitement, an important feature of incitement regarding the Embassy is manufactured by the Palestinian Authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, through Mosques run by Imams loyal to the PA. Leaders, such as Mahmoud Abbas, then use the violence they are instigating behind-the-scenes to warn that an Embassy move might inspire violence.

I was concerned early on that Trump would succumb to these threats, which feed the Arabist wing of the State Department which for several decades has argued for a more pro-Arab foreign policy, Will Trump capitulate to Palestinian threats over U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem?

Capitulation encourages more threats of violence, and actual violence, as a Palestinian policy tool. Calling their bluff could be a major move towards peace, as it will remove threats as a negotiating position.

Will Trump capitulate?

There were early signs Trump was weakening in his resolve in the face of these threats, Has Trump gone soft on Jerusalem Embassy move after threats of violence?

Donald Trump repeatedly promised to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.

That promise was made not only during the campaign, but after the election.

In response, the Palestinians did what they always do — internationalize the conflict coupled with threats of violence.

Numerous high officials in the Palestinian Authority issued increasingly vitriolic threats and attempts to turn the Embassy move into an act against Islam….

Until Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s press briefing yesterday [January 23, 2017], I would have said there was no way Trump would capitulate. But then Spicer dropped what was a bombshell — that no decision had been made whether to move the Embassy and that discussions were only in the “very early stages” ….

The question rises again, has Trump capitulated to Islamist threats of violence?

This has all the appearances of the State Department using its historically poor judgment about the Arab world to slow walk and stymie Trump’s promise to move the Embassy.

Today was the deadline for Trump to sign a “waiver” which is being portrayed as delaying the U.S. Embassy move for at least 6 months. That’s not technically true; the waiver in question doesn’t directly address the move, it addressed budget cuts the State Department would bear under congressional legislation, as Prof. Eugene Kontorovich explained:

The waiver available to the president under the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 does not waive the obligation to move the embassy. That policy has been fully adopted by Congress in the Act (sec. 3(a)(3)) and is not waivable. Of course, Congress cannot simply order the president to implement such a move, especially given his core constitutional power over diplomatic relations.

But Congress, having total power over the spending of taxpayer dollars, does not have to pay for an embassy in Tel Aviv. The Act’s enforcement mechanism is to suspend half of the appropriated funds for the State Department’s “Acquisition and Maintenance of Buildings Abroad” until the law’s terms are complied with. The waiver provision simply allows the president to waive the financial penalty.

What this means is that by not signing a waiver, Trump would not actually be requiring the embassy to move to Jerusalem, moving the embassy or recognizing Jerusalem. That could give him significant diplomatic flexibility or deniability if June 1 goes by with mere silence from the White House.

Moreover, the law says nothing about “moving” the embassy. Rather, the requirement is to “officially open” an embassy, which can be done with a mere declaration upgrading the status of one of the existing consular facilities in the city. It does not require the physical relocation of the facility in Tel Aviv.

By failing to sign the waiver, Trump effectively could have forced the State Department to make the move under threat of severe budget cuts, without Trump doing a thing.

But Trump signed the waiver today. The Free Beacon reports:

The White House announced early Thursday that Trump had signed a presidential waiver to keep the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv for at least another six months. This waiver has been issued by every U.S. president since Congress passed a 1995 law mandating that the embassy be moved to Jerusalem, Israel’s contested capital city.

Senior administration officials told the Washington Free Beacon that Trump remains “committed” to ultimately relocating the U.S. embassy, but has decided to hold off in the short term in order to appease the Palestinians—who also claim the ancient city as their own—and try to make progress in Middle East peace talks.

NBC News reports on the White House explanation:

“While President Donald J. Trump signed the waiver under the Jerusalem Embassy Act and delayed moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the President’s strong support for Israel and for the United States-Israel alliance,” the White House said in a statement.

Trump’s decision to delay the embassy move, according to the statement, is meant to “maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America’s national security interests.”

The waiver appears to be capitulation, if not to outright threats of violence at least to Palestinian negotiating tactics. This is a mistake.

Trump could have made a bold decision, but now that he has expressed his desire to close the ultimate deal, the Jerusalem Embassy once again is held hostage to Palestinian threats.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


Captain Keogh | June 1, 2017 at 1:28 pm

I hate when they pander about moving the embassy when every one knows they have no intention of doing it. The US Consulate in Jerusalem is staffed by people whose view of Israel is the same as Hamas’s. Trump has already succumbed to the lure of “the deal” as all fools in US foreign policy have embraced. and the whole “peace process” is a sham and needs to be dropped. The problems of the region have virtually nothing to do with the Palestinians and just about everything to do with Iranian imperialism.

    MattMusson in reply to Captain Keogh. | June 1, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Unless something changes, one day soon the Iranians are going to nuke Tel-Aviv. So, maybe the embassy should be in Jerusalem.

What is Israel’s official position on the embassy location?

I wonder if they’ve expressed any concerns about it.

    Milhouse in reply to jabster. | June 2, 2017 at 12:39 am

    Israel officially wants all foreign embassies to be in the capital. I wonder how the US would take it if some country, let alone all the countries, decided to put their embassies in Baltimore or Wilmington.

Another T-rumpian promise broken…

or at least badly bent.

Golly, what do conservatives want from Der Donald? So mysterious…

Humphrey's Executor | June 1, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Right, Just hang a “US Embassy” sign on the existing consulate and let the Arabs overreact an behave like children.

    There are even three consulates in Jerusalem to choose from. (One is no longer officially a consulate, but in practice functions as the unofficial embassy to the PA.)

Hm. I can see this as a Trump-ian strategic move. Think about it for a few minutes.

If he gets everything all set up for the move and does not do it just yet, he has leverage over the PA. After all, their objective is to blow something up or cause another attack in *response* to the move. If the move doesn’t happen today, or tomorrow, or next week, they’re stuck. Picture the terrorist cell who has their tunnel dug, their suicide bombers trained and worked to the edge of crazy they need to pull off the attack, and… nothing for weeks at a time. If they go ahead and spring their attack, the US simply announces that the PA is obviously not serious about the peace process and moves the next day, thus making the embassy move a *response* to the PA attack instead of the other way around.

Of course, the press will still lie about it, but that’s a given.

    ahad haamoratsim in reply to georgfelis. | June 2, 2017 at 9:41 am

    The Arabs have never suffered from a lack of excuses for murdering Jews. And the press has never been cursed with the curiosity of intellectual integrity to look behind any of those excuses, no matter how flimsy.

    There will be violence if U.S. moves Embassy to Jerusalem? Of course there will. And there be violence if U.S. does not move the Embassy to Jerusalem. It’s a lot like saying the sun will rise in the morning if the U.S. moves Embassy to Jerusalem.

I have a pickup if transportation is the problem. Otherwise, let’s get it done and quit dicking around.

I think he’s saving this for his final weeks in office as a giant FU to libs.

Or he could have not signed the waiver, not moved the embassy, and told the State Department “oh well, I guess you’re going to have to make do with only half the embassy maintenance budget; what a pity, but the law is the law”.

Yes. And, actually, it appears from the language of the law itself that the funds in question are only those appropriated from 1996 through 1999. Further, there doesn’t appear to be anything in there that says there’s a moving six-month window for transfering the embassy. Had he been so inclined, Trump could have done it on Day One, Obama’s having signed a waver notwithstanding.

Full text is at