Ahead of likely visit to Israel, Trump still eyeing embassy move

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  • Pence reiterated Trump's commitment to the move Tuesday
  • Trump must decide by the end of this month whether he will sign a waiver

(CNN)President Donald Trump is still actively weighing moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a promise he made on the campaign trail, ahead of a likely visit to Israel at the end of this month.

Vice President Mike Pence reiterated Trump's commitment to the move during remarks at the White House Tuesday marking Israeli Independence Day, saying Trump was giving "serious consideration" to relocating the embassy.
While Israel has long pressed nations to move their embassies to Jerusalem, which both the Israelis and Palestinians claim as their capital, nations have largely resisted taking the step out of fears it could undermine the peace process and lead to violence in the region.
European and Arab allies of the United States have also advised against moving the embassy, saying it could lead to unrest.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is due for talks Wednesday at the White House, has said such a move could shatter chances for peace talks, which the Trump administration hopes to restart.
Trump must decide by the end of this month whether to sign a six-month waiver forestalling a move of the embassy. Every US president has signed such a waiver twice a year after a law was passed in 1995 mandating the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem.
US presidents have long cited concerns over undermining the peace process when signing the waivers. The United States' official position has been to leave the status of Jerusalem to final-stage talks between the two sides, and only move the embassy after an agreement is reached.
The final waiver signed by President Barack Obama's expires June 1, around the same time Trump is expected to visit Israel during his first foreign trip as President. US officials have signaled that such a trip is likely, but have not formally announced a presidential visit.
Israel's Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said on Israeli television last week that May 22 is one of the dates being discussed for Trump's visit, but added the final decision lies with the White House.
Speaking at the White House event Tuesday, Israel Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer hinted that Israel was looking forward to a presidential visit.
Dermer said he was looking forward to US Ambassador David Friedman's arrival in Israel, adding it would be "hopefully followed by the arrival of another unnamed senior US official."