US President Donald Trump is seemingly closer than ever to announcing that the American Embassy in Israel will move to Jerusalem, a statement that could stoke tensions in the region.
New reports on Thursday (30 November) suggested that the president, instead of committing to the full move, could simply declare Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, a declaration that would still be highly charged.
Palestinians argued that East Jerusalem should be their capital for a future independent state while Israel says that all of Jerusalem belongs to them.
A 1995 law signing by President Bill Clinton mandated that the US embassy in Israel be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but allows presidents a six-month waiver on national security grounds and every president since as continually signed that waiver.
Trump similarly signed a waiver in June but is now weighing his options as the coming deadline looms.
The Associated Press reported that officials said he arrived at a meeting he was supposed to attend for around 15 minutes but stayed for over an hour, becoming animated on the topic. The officials said that Trump is likely to issue a new waiver but that he may change his mind.
The State Department, which risks losing massive amounts of funding if the waiver is not signed and the embassy is not moved, said that a decision has not yet been made on the matter. Trump said during his presidential campaign that he would move the embassy to the disputed holy city.
Diplomatic missions around the Muslim world were reportedly told to be wary of possible protests next week when an announcement on the embassy and Israeli capital is likely to come.
On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence told an event commemorating the United Nations vote that led to the creation of Israel that Trump was "actively considering when and how to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem".
Pence is set to travel to the Israel in December, with the Vice President making an announcement on Jerusalem during his trip being weighed as a possible option. Though Trump faces influential pro-Israel voices within his Republican party, he has also been cautioned on the move by Jordan's King Abdullah II.