President Donald Trump on Monday once again signed a waiver of the Jerusalem Embassy Act about a month after the US officially opened the doors to the US embassy in Jerusalem.
Despite officially moving the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, Trump was forced to sign the waiver because the US ambassador does not yet have an official residence in Jerusalem – a requirement under the 1995 law calling for the US to move its embassy to the holy city.
“That’s on the list of things to do in terms of the overall transition of the embassy,” David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, said in a briefing with reporters last month. “My apartment in Jerusalem, I’ve been told, is not an eligible opportunity, so it won’t be that, but it’s something we’re still working on.”
Every US president since Bill Clinton has used his waiver authority under the 1995 law to keep the US embassy in Tel Aviv, citing the need “to protect the national security interests of the United States.”
But Trump’s decision to swiftly open a temporary US embassy in May – ahead of the next waiver deadline – was viewed as an effort to avoid signing an additional waiver.
Trump has touted his decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem as a key campaign promise kept and the move was celebrated by conservative leaders in the United States and Israel. A delegation of senior US officials including the deputy secretary of state, treasury secretary and the President’s daughter and son-in-law traveled to Jerusalem last month to inaugurate the embassy.
The embassy is expected to move again once a permanent complex has been selected and retrofitted in Jerusalem.