President Donald Trump is considering recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, officials say, a highly charged declaration that risks inflaming tensions across the Middle East but would be a way to offset a likely decision delaying his campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy there.
Trump’s announcement is expected next week and follows months of internal deliberations that grew particularly intense in recent days, officials familiar with the talks said Thursday. They described the president as intent on fulfilling his pledge to move the embassy but also mindful that doing so could set back his aim of forging a long-elusive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, who claim part of Jerusalem as the capital of an eventual state.
The officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the outlines of Trump’s plan emerged from a meeting of his top national security advisers at the White House on Monday. Trump himself was expected to drop by the meeting for 15 or 20 minutes. He ended up staying for at least an hour and grew increasingly animated during the session, according to two officials briefed on what happened.
Trump is likely to issue a waiver on moving the embassy by Monday, officials said, though they cautioned that the president could always decide otherwise.
The White House also is considering a possible presidential speech or statement on Jerusalem by Wednesday, according to the officials and an outside administration adviser. Another possibility involves Vice President Mike Pence, who is set to travel to Israel in mid-December, making the Jerusalem announcement during his trip, one official said. Pence said Tuesday that Trump is “actively considering when and how” to move the embassy.
The Trump administration insisted the president hasn’t made any decisions on the embassy.