Biden to keep US embassy in Jerusalem if elected rather than move back to Tel Aviv

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Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden said Wednesday that he would keep the US embassy in Israel in Jerusalem if elected, even though he disagrees with Donald Trump’s controversial 2017 decision to move it out of Tel Aviv.

The former vice president said the embassy should never have been moved without that decision being part of a wider Middle East peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

“But now that it’s done, I would not move the embassy back to Tel Aviv,” Biden told a virtual fundraising event.

Read more: US refers to East Jerusalem Palestinians as ‘Arab residents’

The location of the US embassy is a hot-button issue: the status of Jerusalem is one of the most hotly contested issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel seized control of the east of the city in 1967 and later annexed it in moves never recognized by the international community.

Israel considers the city its undivided capital, but Palestinians believe the east is illegally occupied and see it as the capital of their future state.

Read more: US no longer considers Israeli settlements ‘inconsistent with international law’

Trump shattered the status quo when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced his decision to shift the US embassy to the holy city in December 2017.

He has repeatedly boasted that he is the most pro-Israeli US president in history, and has slashed aid to the Palestinians while making big concessions to the Israelis.

Biden said he would reopen the consulate in Jerusalem “to engage the Palestinians and my administration will urge both sides to take steps to keep the prospect of a two-state solution alive.”