Palestinians welcome Trump decision on Israel embassy


US president to keep American embassy in Tel Aviv despite earlier hints he would relocate it to Jerusalem

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) has welcomed a decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to keep the U.S. embassy in Israel in the city of Tel Aviv instead of relocating it to Jerusalem.

In a statement issued late Thursday, PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh described the move as “an important and positive step that will enhance the chances of achieving peace” between Israel and Palestine.

“The decision underscores the seriousness of the U.S. administration’s efforts to promote peace and build a bridge of trust,” he said, “particularly after the summit in Saudi Arabia [attended by Trump] and the meetings between [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas and Trump”.

Abu Rudeineh went on to say the PA would continue working with Trump and his administration in hopes of achieving a “just and lasting peace”.

Israeli disappointment

Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for his part, expressed dissatisfaction with the decision, which, he claimed, would only serve to hinder the peace process.

“Keeping the embassies outside the capital drives peace further away by helping keep alive the Palestinian illusions that the Jewish people and its state have no connection to Jerusalem,” he was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his office.

“Israel’s consistent policy is that the American embassy, like other embassies, should be in Jerusalem, our eternal capital,” he said.

On Thursday, the Trump administration announced its decision to keep the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, despite having hinted during his electoral campaign last year at his readiness to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem.

Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. In a move never recognized by the international community, Israel unilaterally annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as its “eternal and undivided” capital.