US President Donald Trump reportedly stated that the US embassy in Israel would be relocated to Jerusalem during a slate of calls with Middle Eastern leaders Tuesday.
"The president has calls scheduled this morning" with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, King Abdullah of Jordan and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
"There are likely other foreign leader calls that will take place today and we will keep you posted as those are confirmed," she added, signaling a frantic round of telephone diplomacy amid fierce international opposition to any recognition of Israeli sovereignty over its capital.
In Ramallah, a PA official said the Trump-Abbas call had already taken place.
Sources close to Abbas said that President Trump told the PA chairman that he intends to announce that the US embassy will be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. "Trump informed the president on his intention to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," the Wafa news agency reported.
Abbas reportedly told Trump that he would not accept a Palestinian Arab state unless eastern Jerusalem was the capital of the new state, saying that the PA's "firm" position is that “there is no Palestinian state without East Jerusalem as its capital,”
President Trump is reportedly considering whether to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel. The president is also reportedly considering when to relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Trump missed the deadline to sign the presidential waiver delaying the relocation of the embassy Monday.
Under the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, the US embassy in Israel must be moved to Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem.
The act does provide for a security waiver, however, allowing the president to delay implementation of the law for six months at a time if security conditions do not, in the president’s view, permit the move. Every president from Clinton to Trump has used the waiver to push off the embassy move.
While then-candidate Trump vowed in 2016 to move the embassy, on June 1st, 2017, Trump signed a six-month waiver allowing the embassy to remain in Tel Aviv until December 1st.
Last Friday, which marked six months since the last waiver, the White House reported that the president would delay acting on the waiver until after the weekend, promising a decision by Monday night.
But the Monday night deadline passed with no new waiver allowing the US embassy to remain in Tel Aviv, AFP reported Tuesday, increasing speculation that the president may in fact be preparing to relocate the embassy in the near future.
According to Eugene Kontrovich, Head of International Law at the Kohelet Policy Forum and a professor at Northwestern University, the president’s decision to allow the deadline to pass likely indicates that the embassy will indeed be moved.
“Midnight has passed and no Jerusalem Embassy waiver was signed,” said Kontrovich, “which means the [1995 Jerusalem] law will take full effect. It is a hard deadline, and once a waiver is missed, it can’t be made late.”
“I can't see any legal way out of this, the President has begun the process of moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump has finally corrected 70 years of discriminatory policy towards Israel, make no mistake; this is huge!"
A White House spokesperson confirmed to Arutz Sheva that "no action was taken on the waiver on Monday. We will share a decision on the waiver in the coming days."