American diplomatic sources revealed on Sunday that US Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones will not attend a state ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of Jerusalem's reunification under Israeli rule.
Jones will apparently join all European Union ambassadors in boycotting the event for fear of upsetting the Palestinians and the wider Arab world.
The Palestinians and their backers in the region insist Israel must surrender the eastern half of Jerusalem, including the Old City and Temple Mount, to a future Palestinian state.
Israel liberated the eastern half of Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation in 1967.
Jones' decision to avoid the celebration comes despite a 1995 decision by the US Congress to recognize a united Jerusalem as Israel's eternal capital. The bill also obligates the administration to move the American embassy to the holy and contested city, though presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush consistently invoked a six-month waver against the move on grounds of national security.