After the founding of the State of Israel in 1949, the United States recognized the new state, but considered it desirable to establish an international regime for Jerusalem, with its final status resolved through negotiations. The US opposed Israel's declaration of Jerusalem as its capital in 1949 and opposed Jordan's plan to make Jerusalem its second capital announced in 1950. The US also opposed Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem after the 1967 war. The official United States position has been that the future of Jerusalem should be the subject of a negotiated settlement. Subsequent administrations have maintained the position that Jerusalem's future not be the subject of unilateral actions that could prejudice negotiations, such as by moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
During the 1992 presidential election Bill Clinton promised that his administration would "support Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel" and criticized President George H.W. Bush for having "repeatedly challenged Israel’s sovereignty over a united Jerusalem." However, after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Clinton administration did not proceed with their plans in order not to disturb the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which declared that "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel." The bill also stated that the American embassy should move to Jerusalem within five years. Backing the legislation was viewed by some as reflecting American domestic politics. Clinton opposed the Jerusalem Embassy Act and signed a waiver every six month delaying the move.
During the 2000 election campaign, George W. Bush criticized Clinton for not moving the embassy as he had promised to do, and said he planned on initiating the process himself as soon as he was elected. However, once he took office, he backed down on his promise.
In 2008, then Democratic candidate Barack Obama called Jerusalem the 'capital of Israel'. On June 4, 2008, Obama told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), in his first foreign policy speech after capturing the Democratic nomination the day before, that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided." However, he backtracked almost immediately, saying "Well, obviously, it's going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations."
During the 2016 US Presidential election, one of Trump's campaign promises was to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which he described as the "eternal capital of the Jewish people." On June 1, 2017, Trump signed a waiver on the Jerusalem Embassy Act, delaying the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem for another six months, as had every president before him since 1995. The White House stated that this would help them negotiate a deal between Israel and Palestine, and that the promised move would come at a later time.