In a stunning report that could anger some of the foreign policy hawks who have been among Trump's most staunch supporters since taking office, BI reported Wednesday that Trump denied that moving the US's Israeli embassy to Jerusalem would happen within a year.
This represents a break with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said he expected the controversial move, which has been condemned by members of the United Nations, would take place within that time frame.
According to Israeli reporters traveling with their president on a trip to India,
Netanyahu said Wednesday that “my solid assessment is that it will go much faster than you think - within a year from now.”
Asked about Netanyahu’s comment, Trump told Reuters in an interview that this time frame isn't set in stone:
"By the end of the year? We’re talking about different scenarios - I mean obviously that would be on a temporary basis. We’re not really looking at that. That's no.“
In an announcement that triggered protests in the Palestinian territories, in Beirut and across the Muslim world, Trump stunned the world in early December by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordering the State Department to begin the process of moving the embassy from Tel Aviv. Critics of the move, which included the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Turkey, said it would disrupt the Middle East peace process.
Other Trump administration officials had previously expressed doubt that the move would happen so quickly. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last month the embassy move was “probably no earlier than three years out, and that’s pretty ambitious,” a timeframe that administration officials have attributed to the logistics of finding and securing a site as well as arranging housing for diplomats.
Jerusalem is famously home to holy sites for the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally, as the capital of their future state.
Many of Trump's predecessors, including Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and George W Bush, had promised to recognize Jerusalem as the true capital of Israel and to move the US embassy there at some point during their terms.