Facing dark warnings of a historic misstep and widespread unrest, US President Donald Trump on Monday delayed a decision on whether to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move the US embassy there.
The White House said Trump would miss a deadline to decide on shifting the embassy from Tel Aviv, after a frantic 48 hours of public warnings from allies and private phonecalls between world leaders.
The mercurial president has yet to make his final decision, officials said, but is expected to stop short of moving the embassy to Jerusalem outright, a central campaign pledge which has been postponed once already by the new administration.
“The president has been clear on this issue from the get-go: It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley, who said a declaration on the move would be made “in the coming days.”
Domestic politics may however push Trump toward recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital instead, in a gesture towards conservative voters and donors.
The status of Jerusalem is a key issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with both Israelis and Palestinians claiming the city as their capital.