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Trump Considering Effect On Peace Process Of Embassy Move To Jerusalem

The Western Wall (center), the Dome of the Rock (left), and the Al-Asqa mosque (right) in Jerusalem's Old City

U.S. President Donald Trump is considering the effect on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process of potentially moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, his secretary of state said.

Rex Tillerson on May 14 told NBC TV that Trump is "being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process."

Tillerson’s comments come days before Trump starts a foreign trip that will include meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues of the conflict.

Palestinians regard Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. Israel has annexed East Jerusalem and declared all of the city as its capital, a move never recognized by the international community.

During his presidential campaign, Trump vowed to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the embassy there.

That angered Palestinians and their allies, and Trump has subsequently backed off the suggestion.

Tillerson said Trump’s decision will be "informed" and will include feedback from "the parties that are involved in those talks and most certainly Israel's view on whether Israel views it as being helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed U.S. concerns.

"The transfer of the American Embassy to Jerusalem not only will not harm the peace process, but the opposite," his office said in a statement. "It will advance it by correcting a historic injustice and by smashing the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel."

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP