In a momentous shift of United States foreign policy in the Middle East, President Donald Trump is set to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday and initiate the process of relocating the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, according to senior administration officials.
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The president is expected to officially announce the policy changes in remarks at the White House at 1pm on Wednesday.
A U.S. official and a source close to the White House told ABC News that official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital is expected to be intentionally broad and not meant to preclude the possibility that the Palestinians could claim part of the historic city as a capital of a future Palestinian state. The president does not want to “prejudice” the outcome of any future peace negotiations for a two-state solution, one source familiar with the plan told ABC News.
The president will also sign a six-month waiver of a 1995 law mandating an embassy move, thereby keeping the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv for the time being as he initiates the process of relocating the embassy – a process that is expected to take years and will include a survey of construction sites and a search for contractors. Until the new embassy in Jerusalem opens, current law requires the president to sign the waiver that maintains the embassy in Tel Aviv.
The approach described by the officials appears aimed at allowing the president to fulfill a key campaign promise, while also attempting to soften fallout of his decision to move the embassy by delaying it for an undefined period of time.
“While we understand how some parties might react, we are still working on our plan which is not yet ready,” a senior administration official said. “We have time to get it right and see how people feel after this news is processed over the next period of time.”
A senior official downplayed concerns about threats of violence to US citizens overseas as a result of the announcement, saying that the proper precautions have been taken to provide for anticipated additional security needs.
“We’re obviously concerned about the protection of US…