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President Donald Trump has decided to abstain from shifting the U.S embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel-Aviv.

“I hereby determine that it is necessary, in order to protect the national security interests of the United States, to suspend (the move) for a period of six months,” he wrote in a letter he sent to the US secretary of state.

“The suspension set forth in this determination shall take effect after you transmit this determination and the required accompanying report to the Congress,” he added.

Jerusalem is a spiritual and religious center for the three Abrahamic religions of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

This decision marks another instance of the president failing to follow through with his campaign promises. Trump had promised to move the U.S embassy to Jerusalem as soon as he gained office.

The issue of the U.S embassy in Israel originated in 1995 when Congress passed a bill called Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.

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It was passed for the purposes of initiating and funding the relocation of the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in 1999, and attempted to withhold 50 percent of the funds appropriated to the State Department specifically for “Acquisition and Maintenance of Buildings Abroad” as allocated in fiscal year 1999 until the United States Embassy in Jerusalem had officially opened.

The act also called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city and for it to be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel. Israel’s declared capital is Jerusalem, but this is not internationally recognized, pending final status talks in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The United States has withheld recognition of the city as Israel’s capital.

Since passage, the law has yet to be implemented. Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, who view it as a Congressional infringement on the executive branch’s constitutional authority over foreign policy have opposed its enactment. They have consistently signed the presidential waiver on national security interests with regards to this issue and now President Trump seems to be taking their lead as well.

Jerusalem is a spiritual and religious center for the three Abrahamic religions of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

Due to its significance to a massive section of the world’s population, the international community has formed consensus over not letting a single culture or religion have hegemonic control of Jerusalem.

If the Trump administration had decided to shift the U.S embassy to Jerusalem it would have not only been violating international law, it would also have denied the Palestinian right to self-determination and freedom.

Israel, however, has declared East and West Jerusalem as its capital and has proclaimed the holy city “complete and united” under Israeli territory.

Israel’s declaration resulted in the United Nations passing a resolution rejecting Israeli claims over the city on the basis of being in violation of international law.

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The aforementioned United Nations resolution 478 is the reason why no country has established their embassies to Israel in Jerusalem.

If the Trump administration had decided to shift the U.S embassy to Jerusalem it would have not only been violating international law, it would also have denied the Palestinian right to self-determination and freedom.

Since 1967, Israel has been subtly transforming Jerusalem from a multi-religious and multicultural city into a “reunified” Jewish city under its exclusive control. It has accelerated Jerusalem’s “Judaisation” through policies that that target Palestinians in an attempt to minimize the number of Palestinians residing in the city.

Regarding this development the Israeli Prime Minister’s office released a statement on Thursday saying that Israel is “disappointed” but that it appreciates Trump’s “friendship to Israel and his commitment to moving the embassy in the future.”

Such policies have included the revocation of the residency of Palestinian Jerusalemites under the pretext of “breach of allegiance” (which means accusing Palestinians of breaking vague Israeli laws), restrictions on family unification, discriminatory urban and zoning policies, the construction of the wall that slices through Jerusalem and the West Bank, starting in 2002, and the closure of major Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem.

Given the complexity of the situation and the unforeseen repercussions that the already weak Trump administration may have to face by shifting the embassy, the decision to abstain seems to be a wise one.

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Regarding this development the Israeli Prime Minister’s office released a statement on Thursday saying that Israel is “disappointed” but that it appreciates Trump’s “friendship to Israel and his commitment to moving the embassy in the future.”

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