Trump's evangelical supporters disappointed about Israel embassy decision

Palestinian women and girls stand around a Palestinian flag Sumud Freedom Camp Sarura West Bank

President Trump has signed the waiver delaying the move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to a White House official.

"The question is not if that move happens, but only when", the White House said in a statement. Every US president has signed such a waiver twice a year after a law was passed in 1995 mandating the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem.

However, on Wednesday, a senior administration official said President Trump does not want to disrupt any potential for peace between Israel and Palestine, which he believes is close at hand.

"We are glad that the administration has heeded the advice of veteran officials in the diplomatic and security communities, and made a decision to maintain the prudent policy of its predecessors on this issue", said liberal pro-Israel lobbying group J Street in statement.

The statement says: "Maintaining embassies outside the capital drives peace further away by helping keep alive the Palestinian fantasy that the Jewish people and the Jewish state have no connection to Jerusalem".

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, who served under President Barack Obama, said that Trump's decision was the right one but that he hopes Thursday's waiver is the last signed by a U.S. president.

With a deadline looming, Trump made the decision to defer action on the embassy "to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America's national security interests", the White House said.

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In January Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wrote to his United States counterpart to warn him that the symbolic move would trigger violence in the Territories - and perhaps the wider Middle East - describing the scenario as potentially "opening the gates of hell".

And Abbas has long said moving the embassy to Jerusalem could shatter chances for peace talks. Trump's decision came hours after administration officials said he was considering pulling the US out of NAFTA altogether. He said: 'Regarding the idea of opening the US Embassy to Jerusalem, I will respond to this in one word: Great'.

During his visit to Israel last month, Trump visited the Western Wall, the Jewish holy site that sits just steps from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, revered in Islam.

The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as their capital. "The delay in the transfer of the embassy actually makes it hard for real peace because it fosters a false expectation among the Palestinians to divide Jerusalem, which will never happen". Two decades later, Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast War and annexed it, though without worldwide recognition.

Johnnie Moore, a member of Trump's evangelical advisory board, referenced the image of Trump praying at the Western Wall and said most evangelicals are convinced that the president remains supportive of Israel, while needing to juggle broader issues related to peace and security in the region.

Israel considers Jerusalem its capital, but the Palestinians claim east Jerusalem for the capital of a future state.

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