In a briefing on Wednesday afternoon, President Donald Trump declared that the US would formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and “directed the State Department to “begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
According to the President’s address,
It was 70 years ago under President Truman that the United States recognized Israel, and Jerusalem as the capital, the capital the Jewish people established in Ancient Times. Today Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government and the home of the Israeli Parliament, and the Israeli Supreme Court.
The President expounded with a call for religious unity, stating that
Jerusalem is today and must remain a place where Jews pray at the western wall, where Christians walk the stations of the cross, and where Muslims pray at Al Aqsa mosque.
The announcement fulfills a campaign process while potentially complicating the peace process in the region and aggravating Muslim nations, as well as neutral parties who with to maintain the status quo.
While Jerusalem is the official capital of Israel according to maps and the CIA World Factbook, and American officials meet with their Israel counterparts in Jerusalem where Israeli government buildings are stationed, since it is disputed by the Palestinians the US Embassy has been stationed at Tel Aviv.
According to the New York Times, “Jerusalem is claimed by as a capital city by both Israelis and Palestinians, and determining the status of the city would be a central element of any possible peace agreement.”
The decision has been met with critical feedback from Middle Eastern leaders. According to NPR’s Scott Neuman this morning,
“Jordan’s King Abdullah reportedly told the president that the expected decision will have ‘dangerous repercussions on the stability and security of the region,’ according to a palace statement.
“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who spoke by telephone with Trump, warned of ‘the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world,’ Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said in a statement, according to Al-Jazeera.
“That was a sentiment echoed by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who cautioned that it ‘would undermine the chances of peace in the Middle East.’
“In a fiery televised speech on Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Trump by name that the move constituted a ‘red line’ for Muslims.
” ‘We could go as far as cutting diplomatic ties with Israel over the issue,’ Erdogan said.”
While some have called the move a “kiss of death” for the peace process, an Israeli minister urged other countries to follow the US’s lead. For 70 years the US has been allied with, and funded Israel, however no president has formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital.
According to the BBC, Pope Francis called for the status quo in Jerusalem to be respected, in line with United Nations resolutions.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, previously occupied by Jordan, in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital.
The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and according to 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.
Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognised internationally, and until now all countries have maintained their embassies in Tel Aviv.
President Trump has formally declared his staunch support for the Israeli state, but also has expressed interest in mediation, calling Israeli-Palestinian Peace “the biggest deal there is”.