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US ‘promised’ not to demand concessions from Israel in return for embassy move

Indonesians come together to protest against US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem [Anton Raharjo/Anadolu Agency]

The decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was widely suspected as being Donald Trump’s attempt to gain Israeli concessions for the deal being put together by his son-in-law Jared Kushner and a number of other White House aides.

But according to Israeli news agency Arutz Sheva, the embassy move has no strings attached and President Trump will not use the controversial decision, denounced by the international community, to win any concession from Benjamin Netanyahu.

The pro-settler newspaper, quoting a senior US official, said that Trump had already promised not to force Israel to make concessions and no political “compensation” was expected for the embassy move.

Arutz Sheva affirmed that some senior Israeli officials had expected that there would be “a price” for the US to implement the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act and move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It cited Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who earlier this month told Channel 2 that “there is no free lunch. The opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem will come at a price, and it is worth paying it.”

Read: 30 ambassadors to participate in celebrations of US Embassy transfer

The Trump administration, however, does not view the embassy move as a part of a reciprocal exchange with Israel, but merely the implementation of a long-delayed US law. “As far as we’re concerned, we are not looking for something in return for moving the embassy to Jerusalem,” the official told Arutz Sheva.

The official, according to the Israeli source, is working to draw up a framework for a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Early reports suggest that the Trump peace plan will ask Israel to withdraw from four Palestinian neighbourhoods in occupied East Jerusalem to make way for a Palestinian capital.

Reporting that there was “nothing concrete on the table” with regards to the final deal, the senior official said “there will be recommendations”, but the President has “vowed not to force anything on Israel”.

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