In an unprecedented move, President Trump announced on Wednesday that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital, an action that is likely to inflame the Middle East and the Arab world.
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the president said in a statement from the White House Diplomatic Reception room just after 1 p.m. ET, which was 8 p.m. in Israel, with Vice President Mike Pence by his side.
For more than two decades, Mr. Trump said that previous presidents have signed a waiver to delay moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but said that “we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.”
- Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital
- The president intends to move the embassy to Jerusalem, but will sign waiver delaying the move
- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned this move will ruin the peace process
- Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, called for a “Day of Rage” on Friday in reaction to the news
“While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver,” he said. “Today, I am delivering.”
Mr. Trump said that he also directs the State Department to begin the process of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but he will sign a waiver that will delay the move in order to avoid significant funding cuts, senior administration officials said before his statement. Officials said that it was not possible to move the embassy to Jerusalem immediately, however, and it could take “a matter of some years.”
“This is not an instantaneous process,” one official said.
In explaining the decision, which breaks with longstanding U.S. foreign policy, Mr. Trump said that the Israeli government is based in Jerusalem and not Tel Aviv. “Today, we finally acknowledged the obvious — that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” he said. “This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality.”
The president dismissed the idea that moving the embassy to Jerusalem interferes with the peace process. “We are not taking a position of any final status issues including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders,” he said. “Those questions are up to the parties involved.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the decision in a video statement.
“We’re profoundly grateful for the President for his courageous and just decision to…