WASHINGTON — Defying dire, worldwide warnings, US President Donald Trump on Wednesday broke with decades of US and international policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Despite urgent appeals from Arab and European leaders and the risk of anti-American protests and violence, Trump declared that he was ending an approach that for decades has failed to advance the prospects for peace. He also for the first time personally endorsed the concept of a “two-state solution” for Israel and the Palestinians, provided both sides agree to it.
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” he said in a White House address, calling it “overdue” and in the best interests of the United States. He said recognition acknowledged the “obvious” fact that Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government despite the disputed status that is one of the key elements in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“This is nothing more or less than the recognition of reality,” he said.
Trump also directed that the State Department begin the process of moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as required by US law. Officials said, however, that the move will take years to complete.
Trump maintained that his decision would not compromise the city’s geographic and political borders, which will still be determined by Israel and the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump, saying Israel was “profoundly grateful.”
“This is a historic day,” Netanyahu said in a video message. “We’re profoundly grateful for the president for his courageous and just decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to prepare for the opening of the US embassy here.”
Netanyahu said the move reflected Trump’s “commitment to an ancient but enduring truth, to fulfilling his promises and to advancing peace.”
Read More: Times of Israel