President Donald Trump will recognize an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel during his first visit, reportedly planned for May, but he will not overturn the long-standing veto on moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem when it comes up for renewal, reported Israeli newspaper Yedidoth Achronot on Thursday.
The biannual veto of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 is due for renewal in May. Since the bill was first passed, every US president has signed a waiver at six-month intervals delaying the legislation’s enactment. The May deadline will mark the first time the bill has come up for consideration under President Trump.
During his campaign and in the beginning days of his presidency, Trump repeatedly vowed that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be a top priority for his administration. Since taking office, messages coming from the White House have been mixed.
Trump has sent fact-finding teams to Israel to research the move, and last month Representative Ron DeSantis said in Jerusalem that he expected Trump would not renew the waiver in May. However, administration rhetoric has cooled considerably on the issue as Trump attempts to pursue an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
In any case, an acknowledgment of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by a sitting American president would represent a huge shift in US policy, which until now had delicately avoided the issue by refusing to recognize the contested city as part of the country, let alone as its capital.
While Trump’s first Israel visit, reportedly set for late May or early June, has yet to be officially finalized, White House officials have confirmed that the administration is “exploring” the trip. According to Yedidoth Aronot, a delegation of 25 US government officials will arrive in Israel on Thursday to begin the planning stages.
Trump will be accompanied by his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, both religious Jews. Kushner’s family and businesses have significant ties to Israel, and the presidential advisor has named him the administration’s Middle East ‘peace broker.’