Obama delays embassy move to Jerusalem 'for last time'

Obama delays embassy move to Jerusalem 'for last time'
2 min read
02 December, 2016
President Obama has issued what could be the last waiver stopping Israel's US Embassy from moving to Jerusalem, with Trump pledging to recognise the city as Israel's "undivided" capital.
President-elect Trump has previously pledged to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital [AFP]

Outgoing US President Barack Obama has issued what could be the last waiver to stop the US Embassy in Israel from being moved to Jerusalem.

Obama signed the presidential waiver, issued every six months by every president since Bill Clinton, to delay plans to relocate the Tel Aviv embassy citing "national security interests".

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most difficult issues in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

While Israel considers Jerusalem to be its eternal capital, the international community does not recognise this - including the US. Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. According to the UN, the city belongs solely to neither Palestine nor Israel.

However, under President-elect Donald Trump, the decades-old protocol may change.

Trump had pledged in a meeting with Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu in September to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's "undivided" capital if he is elected president.

With the passing of the Jerusalem Embassy act in 1995, the US Congress declared that: "Since 1950, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel".

However President Bill Clinton was unable to veto this bill due to the majorities that would oppose him in Congress. It went into effect without Clinton's signature, while the president maintained that the legislative chamber had no constitutional authority to determine the issue.

Since this declaration, Clinton and his two successors have filed presidential declarations every six months invoking an exception to the law. This declaration allows the US to keep its embassy in Tel Aviv on security grounds.

Last month, Washington forgot its policy after the transcript of Obama's eulogy for former Israeli leader Shimon Peres referred to Jerusalem as being in Israel.