'Abandoning Jerusalem is not how you make America great again'

'Trump is a true friend of Israel, which is why cancelling embassy move is such a disappointment,' says Likud minister.

David Rosenberg ,

President Trump
President Trump
Marc Israel Sellem/POOL

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) lamented President Donald Trump’s decision Thursday to defer relocating the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, calling the move “a huge disappointment”.

Trump had promised repeatedly during his 2016 presidential campaign to implement the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which requires the US Embassy be moved from its present location in Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital.

"We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem,” Trump said at the 2016 AIPAC conference in Washington DC.

Since his election last November, however, the president has remained mum on whether he would follow through on his pledge.

On Thursday, the president signed a six-month security waiver, deferring the relocation.

The Tourism Minister expressed his frustration with the move, saying Trump’s support for the Jewish state made the about-face particularly difficult to stomach.

“President Trump is a true friend of Israel. That’s what makes the failure to move the embassy such a huge disappointment. This is not the way to make America great again.”

But at least one senior US official said the deferral was only meant as a delay, and that the White House still planned to make good on the president’s campaign promise.

"It's a question of when, not if," the official said, AFP reported, adding that "he doesn't think the timing is right, right now."

"In timing such a move he will seek to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians."