clear
Monday December 11th, 2017 12:17PM

Officials: Trump might declare Jerusalem the Israeli capital

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is considering recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, officials say, a highly charged declaration that risks inflaming tensions across the Middle East but would be a way to offset a likely decision delaying his campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy there.

Trump's announcement is expected next week and follows months of internal deliberations that grew particularly intense in recent days, officials familiar with the talks said Thursday. They described the president as intent on fulfilling his pledge to move the embassy but also mindful that doing so could set back his aim of forging a long-elusive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, who claim part of Jerusalem as the capital of an eventual state.

The officials, who weren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the outlines of Trump's plan emerged from a meeting of his top national security advisers at the White House on Monday. Trump himself was expected to drop by the meeting for 15 or 20 minutes. He ended up staying for at least an hour and grew increasingly animated during the session, according to two officials briefed on what happened.

Trump is likely to issue a waiver on moving the embassy by Monday, officials said, though they cautioned that the president could always decide otherwise.

The White House also is considering a possible presidential speech or statement on Jerusalem by Wednesday, according to the officials and an outside administration adviser. Another possibility involves Vice President Mike Pence, who is set to travel to Israel in mid-December, making the Jerusalem announcement during his trip, one official said. Pence said Tuesday that Trump is "actively considering when and how" to move the embassy.

The Trump administration insisted the president hasn't made any decisions on the embassy.

White House spokesman Sarah Sanders on Wednesday called an earlier report saying Trump would order an embassy move as "premature."

"No decision on this matter has been made yet," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday.

Moving the embassy could spark widespread protest across the Middle East and undermine an Arab-Israeli peace push led by president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Trump's campaign season promises won him the support of powerful pro-Israel voices in the Republican Party. But as president, he has faced equally forceful lobbying from close U.S. allies such as King Abdullah II of Jordan, who have impressed on him the dangers in abandoning America's carefully balanced position on the holy city.

Under U.S. law signed by President Bill Clinton in 1995, the U.S. must relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem unless the president waives the requirement on national security grounds, something required every six months. If the waiver isn't signed and the embassy doesn't move, the State Department would lose half its funding for its facilities and their security around the world. Republicans have championed embassy security since a 2012 attack on American compounds in Benghazi, Libya.

All presidents since Clinton have issued the waiver, saying Jerusalem's status is a matter for Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate. Trump signed the waiver at the last deadline in June, but the White House made clear he still intended to move the embassy.

Trump's approach appears to thread a fine needle, much like he did with the Iran nuclear deal. After vowing to pull out, Trump in October decertified the agreement as no longer serving America's national interests. But he didn't announce new sanctions or take any other step to immediately revoke the accord.

Now, as then, he faced significant resistance from his top national security advisers.

At Monday's White House meeting, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the case that moving the embassy in Israel would pose a grave danger to American diplomats and troops stationed in the Middle East and Muslim nations, the U.S. officials said.

King Abdullah II, who met Pence and Tillerson this week in Washington, made the same argument, telling the vice president and others that any change to the embassy in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal would create unrest and instability throughout the region and drive up anti-American sentiment, according to the officials.

After a lengthy back and forth at the White House meeting, Trump and his inner circle appeared to accept those concerns but insisted that the president had to demonstrate his stated commitment to move the embassy, the officials said. The discussion then turned toward waiving the embassy move for another six months but combining it with recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's eternal capital, which the Israelis have long sought.

Any change in U.S. position is delicate.

The State Department recently advised American diplomatic posts in predominantly Muslim nations that an announcement about the embassy and Jerusalem's status is possible next week, and advised them to be vigilant about possible protests, officials said.

Inside the Trump administration, officials said debate now centers on how to make a Jerusalem announcement without affecting Israeli-Palestinian "final status" negotiations. One option under consideration is to include in any such statement a nod to Palestinian aspirations for their capital to be in east Jerusalem.

The U.S. also faces legal constraints. Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital without a peace deal could run afoul of U.N. Security Council resolutions that don't recognize Israeli sovereignty over the city. Washington has a veto on the council and could block any effort to declare the U.S. in violation, but any such vote risks being an embarrassment and driving a wedge between the United States and many of its closest allies.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
AP sources: Trump considers replacing Tillerson with Pompeo
AP sources: In a possible realignment of his national security team, Trump considers replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA's Pompeo
4:06AM ( 6 minutes ago )
Officials: Trump might declare Jerusalem the Israeli capital
Officials say President Donald Trump is considering recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a change in policy that could inflame tensions across the Middle East
3:58AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Selena Gomez honors Francia Raisa for life-saving transplant
Selena Gomez honors Francia Raisa for saving her life during an emotional speech at the Billboard Women in Music gala
3:50AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Attack siren brings back Cold War-era memories in Hawaii
Hawaii is reinstating the system intended to warn people of an impending nuclear strike just days after North Korea launched its most powerful missile yet
3:15AM ( 56 minutes ago )
Trial focused on shooting despite spotlight on immigration
Though the 2015 shooting death of Kate Steinle became a flashpoint in an intense national debate over immigration, the issue was never addressed inside the courtroom where a jury acquitted a Mexican national in the killing
3:15AM ( 57 minutes ago )
Mayor: New York inferno sparked by amateur bladesmith
Officials say an inferno that destroyed or damaged nearly two dozen buildings in a city in upstate New York was sparked by an amateur bladesmith
2:40AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Seoul: N. Korea's new missile could reach Washington
South Korea says the most powerful missile that North Korea tested this week is potentially capable of striking targets as far as 13,000 kilometers (8,100 miles), which would put Washington within reach.
11:34PM ( 4 hours ago )
Jury acquits Mexican man in San Francisco pier killing
Jurors have found a Mexican man not guilty of murder in the killing of a woman on a San Francisco pier in a case that touched off a national immigration debate
11:30PM ( 4 hours ago )
Prescott, Cowboys top Redskins 38-14 in 1st win sans Elliott
Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes, including a franchise record-breaker to Dez Bryant, and the Dallas Cowboys finally won without suspended star running back Ezekiel Elliott, beating the Washington Redskins 38-14
11:26PM ( 4 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
The Latest: Trump: 'Disgraceful verdict' in pier shooting
President Donald Trump says there was a "disgraceful verdict" after a Mexican man was found not guilty of murder in a high-profile killing that touched off a fierce immigration debate
10:48PM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: GOP Sen. Johnson still withholding on tax bill
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin says he is still withholding support for the Republicans' sweeping tax package because it doesn't cut taxes enough for business owners
10:44PM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: Tillerson here, working, Trump spokeswoman says
President Donald Trump's press secretary isn't denying reports that he is considering replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
9:53PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
AP sources: Trump considers replacing Tillerson with Pompeo
AP sources: In a possible realignment of his national security team, Trump considers replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA's Pompeo
4:06AM ( 6 minutes ago )
Selena Gomez honors Francia Raisa for life-saving transplant
Selena Gomez honors Francia Raisa for saving her life during an emotional speech at the Billboard Women in Music gala
3:50AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Senate GOP hustles to meet tax bill holdouts' demands
Senate Republicans are stepping quickly to meet competing demands of holdout GOP senators for a tax overhaul package expected to add $1 trillion to the nation's deficit over 10 years. The Republicans eye a crucial final vote Friday on the Senate bill.
3:50AM ( 22 minutes ago )
The Latest: GOP Sen. Johnson still withholding on tax bill
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin says he is still withholding support for the Republicans' sweeping tax package because it doesn't cut taxes enough for business owners
3:32AM ( 40 minutes ago )
Pope to greet Rohingya refugees at Bangladesh peace prayer
Pope Francis is ordaining 16 priests during a Mass in Bangladesh, the start of a busy day that will also bring him face-to-face with Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar
3:27AM ( 45 minutes ago )