President Trump will say Wednesday that the U.S. considers Jerusalem the political capital of Israel, but the American embassy won’t move to the contested city anytime soon.
Administration officials told reporters Tuesday evening that Trump believes his afternoon speech, set for 1 p.m. at the White House, will recognize reality and won’t derail peace efforts by his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner.
One official said it will be “a matter of some years, it won’t be months, it won’t be quick” before the U.S. embassy moves from Tel Aviv, and that the capital designation does not recognize Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem.
“It will take some time to find a site, address security concerns, design a new facility, fund a new facility, and build it — so this is not an instantaneous process,” the official said.
Another official said the embassy may not be relocated before the end of Trump’s four-year term in office, which has about three years and one month remaining.
“As a practical matter, no embassy is constructed today anywhere in the world in shorter than three or four years — no embassy,” the second official said.
In the meantime, Trump will sign waivers every six months for the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which requires a funding cut to the State Department unless the U.S. embassy moves or the president signs a waiver.
The second official told reporters he disagreed with a suggestion that the Trump administration could, if it wanted, simply create a new plaque for the U.S. consulate building in Jerusalem declaring it to be the embassy tomorrow.