The White House pushed back on claims Wednesday that President Donald Trump is days away from announcing the relocation of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and an official statement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Earlier on Wednesday, Israel’s Channel 2 reported that senior officials in Jerusalem said that the Israeli government expected an announcement from the White House in the coming days, announcing the embassy move and the formation of a special team to implement the move.
According to the report, senior sources believe President Trump has resolved not to renew the six-month waiver which allows the US embassy to remain in Tel Aviv, and will announce the move before the last waiver expires on December 4th.
In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, requiring the president to move the US embassy to Israel’s capital.
The law, which was signed by President Clinton, despite his own opposition to the bill, after it passed with broad bipartisan support.
Under the law, the president may delay implementation of the act for security reasons, renewing the waiver every six months.
But at a press conference Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied that any such announcement was imminent.
"This is a premature report,” said Huckabee Sanders. “We have nothing to announce.”
The Channel 2 report came one day after Vice President Mike Pence said that the president is “actively considering” moving the embassy, calling it a matter of “when and how”.
"President Donald Trump is actively considering when and how to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," Pence said.
The Vice President made the comments at an event Tuesday hosted by the Israeli mission to the United Nations to mark the 70th anniversary of the historic United Nations General Assembly vote on Resolution 181, endorsing the establishment of a Jewish state.
Earlier this month, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman reiterated his belief that President Trump would in fact relocate the embassy, calling the move a matter of ‘when, not if’.
"The president has also made clear that he intends to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It is not a question of if, it is a question of when. And I take the president at his word, and I'm personally committed to do all that I can to advocate for this move."