Following former president’s footsteps, President Obama has renewed the presidential waiver against moving America’s Embassy in Israel from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem for another six months on Thursday morning. The waiver, which was signed by every president over the past 20 years, suspends the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital, transferring it’s embassy there, according to the Times of Israel.
Congress passed the bill in 1995, however the executive authority of the president allows him to temporarily suspend the legislation if he determines it necessary. The waiver, which has been signed every six months by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama states, “I hereby determine that it is necessary, in order to protect the national security interests of the United States, to suspend for a period of 6 months.”
While campaigning, Donald Trump promised countless times to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem if he was elected president. During an AIPAC speech in March, Trump said he intends to, “move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.”
Trump’s foreign policy adviser, Walid Phares, said in an interview with BBC that: “Many prime ministers of Israel have that close to their heart. Many presidents of the U.S. have committed to do that, and he [Trump] said as well he would do that. But he would do that in consensus,” he added.
Many wondered if what Phares said was a sign of Trump walking back on his initial pledge, as he’s done many times since his election. Phares later clarified saying that he meant a “consensus at home,” although many are still unsure as to what exactly that means.
Abe Foxman, the former National Director of the Anti-Defamation League said, “I would move it gradually because, after 70 years of this horrific double standard, it may be too traumatic to do it immediately” in an interview with Jewish Insider.
The next time a president will have to take action on this issue will be in six months, on June 1, 2017. Jewish Trump supporters and right-wing Israeli parties are hopeful that Trump won’t sign the waiver in the future.
Earlier this year, Republican senators drafted legislation that changed the wording of the 1995 Embassy Act stating that the president cannot delay the bill because of national security reasons, and force the move of the embassy, according to the Times of Israel.
“Jerusalem is a symbolic, emotional and real issue,” said Itamar Rabinovich, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States, to The New York Times. “It matters to many Israeli Jews because it would indicate that the United States actually recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which now it effectively does not.”