NEW YORK – President Donald Trump said Saturday he will shelve plans to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem until a deal between Israel and the Palestinians is given a chance.
“I want to give that a shot before I even think about moving the embassy to Jerusalem,” Trump said on a show hosted by former Arkansa governor Mike Huckabee.
He added that his administration would make a decision on the embassy “in the not too distant future,” but for now negotiations took precedence.
Trump’s campaign pledge to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem sparked outrage in the Palestinian Authority and the Arab world at large. In May, the president signed a waiver that delayed its fulfillment for another six months, prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express “disappointment.”
At the time, the White House said the decision does not affect the U.S.’s strong relationship with Israel and added that Trump still has every intention of moving the embassy in the future.
“While President Donald J. Trump signed the waiver under the Jerusalem Embassy Act and delayed moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the President’s strong support for Israel and for the United States-Israel alliance,” the White House statement said.
During the interview with Huckabee, Trump was cagey about what the deal entailed but hopeful that it could be struck.
“We’re working on a plan that everybody says will never work,” he said. “If that doesn’t work, which it’s possible that it won’t, to be totally honest, most people say it’s an impossible deal. I don’t think it is impossible, and I think it’s something that can happen, and I’m not making any predictions.”
He continued by saying that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would pace the way for peace in the region, “which has to happen.”
Several reports have suggested that the deal may include the normalization of ties between Israel and the Arab world.
In the interview, Trump said the Iran nuclear deal was “terrible” but would not confirm whether the U.S. would pull out.
“I can tell you I’m very unhappy with the deal. The spirit is not there. They are literally causing trouble,” he said, accusing Iran of working with North Korea. “You will see what I will be doing. … Iran is a bad player and they will be taken care of as a bad player.”