WASHINGTON President-elect Donald Trump’s spokesman said on Thursday there will be an announcement on whether the United States will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“Stay tuned,” incoming White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters, asked about the issue at a briefing the day before Trump takes office. “There’ll be a further announcement on that.”
While campaigning for the presidency, Trump pledged to switch the embassy from Tel Aviv, where it has been located for 68 years, to Jerusalem.
The proposal drew an outcry from Palestinians and others who said it would kill any prospect for peace.
Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and the status of the city is one of the most sensitive issues in the Israel-Palestinian dispute.
The United States and other countries do not regard Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Other nations’ embassies are located in Tel Aviv and do not recognize Israel’s annexation of Arab East Jerusalem following its capture in the 1967 Middle East war.
Trump has criticized the Obama administration as not being friendly enough to the longtime U.S. ally.
The Obama administration has been highly critical of Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Most countries view all Israeli settlements on occupied land that the Palestinians seek for their own state as illegal.
“The president (Trump) has made it very clear that Israel has not gotten the attention it deserves or the respect in the last eight years. He intends to really show his respect for Israel, the importance of it in the Middle East,” Spicer said.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Frances Kerry)