President Donald Trump decided to postpone the transfer of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite the election campaign he vowed to do so soon.
|The US Embassy in Tel Aviv: The US government under the leadership of its presidents, has always insisted that the status of Jerusalem should be established through negotiations.|
He renewed the postponement of the law requiring the relocation, as did his predecessor every six months since 1995.
The White House has said that Trump will fulfill its campaign promises but wants to maximize the possibility of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
Palestinian leaders warned the move would threaten a two-state solution.
Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since the 1967 Middle East war. They annexed the region in 1980 and regarded it as their exclusive domain. Under international law this area is considered occupied territory.
Israel decreed that Jerusalem was the eternal and indivisible capital. But Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their country in the future.
The US government since 1948 has maintained the stance that the status of Jerusalem is decided by the negotiations and that they will not take action that may be considered to precede the outcome of such negotiations.
During last year's election campaign, Trump expressed his strong support for Israel and promised to order the relocation of the embassy on its first day in office.
But three weeks later, he admitted in an interview with an Israeli newspaper that this was 'not an easy decision' and that he was still 'learning' the matter.
Last month, during a visit to Israel and the West Bank, as he declared that he would "do everything" to help Israel and the Palestinians achieve peace, Trump avoided open discussion of the potential for the transfer of embassies.
On Thursday, as the deadline approached, the White House announced that Trump continued its predecessor policy to sign a six-month suspension for the Israeli Embassy Act.
"President Trump took this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling its true obligation to defend America's national security interests," a statement said.
"But, because he repeatedly declared his intention to move the embassy, the question is not whether it will happen, but when it will happen."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office expressed disappointment, but said it appreciated "Trump's commitment to move the embassy in the future."
"Israel's consistent position is that the American embassy, like the embassies of all countries with diplomatic relations, should be in Jerusalem, our eternal capital," a statement from the Israeli prime minister's office said.
"Maintaining an embassy outside the capital makes peace even further by helping to keep the Palestinian fantasy that Jews and Jewish state have nothing to do with Jerusalem."
On the contrary, the Palestinian Ambassador to the US welcomed the decision.
"This is in line with the old US policy and international consensus, and this provides an opportunity for peace creation," Ambassador Hussam Zomlot said in a statement.
"We are ready to begin the process of talks with the US government ... We are serious and sincere in achieving a just and lasting peace."