Here Are All the Presidents Who Promised to Move the US Embassy to Jerusalem but Never Did

On Monday, the United States officially opened its embassy in Jerusalem after President Donald Trump made the decision to recognize the city as the capital of Israel. Trump did not attend the unveiling ceremony but did give remarks from the White House.

Watch the video comparing the different promises made by presidents below.


“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital,” he said. “Yet for many years, we failed to acknowledge the obvious, the plain reality that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem.”

Several presidents before Trump promised this action, but they never delivered.

Former President Bill Clinton

“Jerusalem is still the capital of Israel and must remain an undivided city accessible to all,” he said in 1992. Clinton even went after former President George H.W. Bush for keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv instead of Jerusalem and then promised to move it. 

In 2000, Clinton said:

“I have always wanted to move our embassy to west Jerusalem. We have a designated site there. I have not done so because I didn’t want to do anything to undermine our ability to help to broker a secure and fair and lasting peace for Israelis and for Palestinians. But in light of what has happened, I’ve taken that decision under review, and I’ll make a decision sometime between now and the end of the year on that.”

He never delivered.

Former President George W. Bush

“As soon as I take office, I will begin the process of moving the United States ambassador to the city Israel has chosen as its capital,” he said in 2000. Bush added that he would “start the process as soon as I’m sworn in.”

He never delivered.

Former President Barack Obama

“I continue to say that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel, and I have said that before, and I will say it again,” he said in 2008. In another speech that year, Obama stated, “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”

He never delivered.

In contrast, President Trump made a promise during his campaign in 2016 to “move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.”

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

In 2017, Trump made the first step and announced that “it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”:

“While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering. I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interest of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long-overdue step to advance the peace process and work towards a lasting agreement.”

Then, of course, on Monday, the U.S. Embassy was officially opened in Jerusalem.

Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

Promises made, promises kept, just as Trump said during his campaign. 

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