Trump speaks at Holocaust Memorial Museum
Trump speaks at Holocaust Memorial Museum Reuters

President Donald Trump signed an order Thursday keeping the US Embassy in Israel at its present location in Tel Aviv and deferring its relocation to Jerusalem for at least six months.

The president had promised during his 2016 White House campaign to move the embassy to the Israeli capital if elected.

"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.

After the November election, however, Trump remained mum on whether he intended to follow through on his pledge.

The waiver signed Thursday defers implementation of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which requires the US Embassy in Israel be relocated to the Israeli capital. Every president since Bill Clinton has invoked the act’s emergency waiver to defer relocation of the embassy.

Despite Trump’s signing of the order deferring the embassy’s relocation, a senior US official said the move was a temporary delay, insisting the White House still intends to make good on Trump’s 2016 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."

The president met with Israeli leaders last week during his first visit to the Jewish state since the inauguration.

The trip, which included a meeting with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, was intended to lay the foundation for renewed negotiations between Israel and the PA – an oft-repeated goal of President Trump.