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Trump reviews option to move US embassy to Jerusalem

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump will decide tomorrow whether to renew a legal waiver that delays an eventual move of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Any decision to move the US mission from Tel Aviv to the city claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as their capital would be controversial.

Trump’s administration has sent mixed signals over its intent, heightening tensions in a region where a new outbreak of unrest is rarely far away.

Congress passed a law in 1995 making it US policy to move the embassy to Jerusalem, symbolically endorsing Israel’s claim on the city as its capital.

But the law contained a clause that has allowed each president since to issue and renew a six-month waiver on carrying out the move.

US officials told AFP they expect Trump to renew the waiver once again tomorrow, but none were willing to go on the record in case he changes his mind.

During his campaign for office, Trump expressed support for moving the embassy and has appointed a strong supporter of such a move as his ambassador to Israel.

But he did not renew this call — which would anger many Palestinians and neighboring Arab states — when he visited Jerusalem last week on his first foreign trip.

Jerusalem was divided between Israeli rule in the west and Jordanian in the east until 1967, when Israel was attacked by allied Arab armies.

Israel fought back and its victory left it in control of East Jerusalem and the wider West Bank beyond.

Israel’s government is based in the city, and Israeli settlements have been built around it on occupied land.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem — including the Old City and its sites holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians — to become the capital of an eventual state.