Defying dire, worldwide warnings, President Donald Trump on Wednesday broke with decades of United States and international policy by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
After his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday, Trump announced plans to relocate the US embassy there, a move expected to inflame tensions in the region and unsettle the prospects for peace.
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said from White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room. “After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.”
The move signaled a willingness on Trump’s part to prioritize fulfilling a campaign promise over the consensus among US allies in the region and beyond that the decision could stymie the peace process and increase security risks in a region that is already on edge.
“Today, I am delivering,” Trump said, referencing his campaign promise.
In calls with Trump on Tuesday, Arab leaders in the region and French President Emmanuel Macron expressed deep misgivings about Trump’s move and urged him to reconsider.
Trump’s decision, previewed Tuesday by senior administration officials, upends decades of policy from successive Republican and Democratic administrations that have said the status of Jerusalem should be left up to a final status agreement negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians.
Trump said Wednesday he is ordering the State Department “to begin preparations to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
But senior officials said he will again sign a waiver to keep the US embassy in Tel Aviv for the time being as they estimate it will take years before a new embassy can open in Jerusalem.
Trump said his order to the State Department will begin the process of hiring architects and building contractors to build an embassy that will be a “a magnificent tribute to peace.”
Meanwhile, President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been dubbed a “kiss of death” for the Middle East peace process by the Palestinians.
The Palestinians’ representative to the UK, Manuel Hassassian, told the BBC that the changes to US policy on Jerusalem amounted to a “kiss of death” for the two-state solution in peace efforts and were like a “declaration of war”.
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett described it as a “big step towards regional peace” and said other countries should move their embassies too.
Theresa May said she would speak to Mr Trump about the US move. The UK’s position on Jerusalem had not changed, the prime minister told Parliament.
The city’s status should be the subject of negotiation and it should be the shared capital of Israel and a Palestinian state, she added.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the step would “play into the hands of terror groups”.
The BBC’s Barbara Plett-Usher, in Washington, says Mr Trump is expected to try and calm international alarm by stating that the US is prepared to support a two-state solution, if both Israelis and Palestinians agree to it.
But that is not the categorical endorsement of a two-state solution that the Palestinians are looking for, our correspondent adds.
Earlier, America’s friends and foes unleashed fierce criticism on Wednesday ahead of Donald Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The president previewed ‘a big announcement’ during a cabinet meeting, which he said concerns ‘Israel and the Palestinians in the Middle East. And I think it’s long overdue.’
‘Many presidents have said they want to do something, and they didn’t do it. Whether it’s through courage or they change their mind I can’t tell you. But a lot of people have said we have to do something, and they didn’t do it.’
A senior administration official said Tuesday that the president would also launch a long process of moving America’s embassy there from Tel Aviv.
‘The president believes this is a recognition of reality,’ the official said.
While Israel welcomed the news, Palestinian officials declared the Mideast peace process ‘finished’ and Turkey announced it would host a meeting of Islamic nations next week to give Muslim countries’ leaders an opportunity to coordinate a response.
In Gaza, U.S. and Israeli flags were burned and in the West bank Hamas declared Friday a ‘day of rage,’ raising the specter of mass violence in the occupied territories.
World reacts to Trump’s move
“I pray to the Lord that its identity is preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world and that wisdom and prudence prevail to prevent new elements of tension from being added to a global context already convulsed by so many cruel conflicts.” –Pope Francis
“Jerusalem obviously should be part of the final settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians – a negotiated settlement that we want to see. We have no plans ourselves to move our embassy.” –Boris Johnson, British Foreign Secretary
“Our historical national identity is receiving important expressions every day.” –Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister
“Declaring Jerusalem a capital is disregarding history and the truths in the region, it is a big injustice/cruelty, shortsightedness, foolishness/madness, it is plunging the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight.” –Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag
“He is declaring war in the Middle East, he is declaring war against 1.5 billion Muslims, hundreds of millions of Christians, that are not going to accept the holy shrines to be totally under the hegemony of Israel.” –Manuel Hassassian, chief Palestinian representative to Britain
“That they claim they want to announce (Jerusalem) as the capital of occupied Palestine is because of their incompetence and failure,” –Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday and launched a process to move the U.S. embassy there, casting his decision as an act of political courage.
In Gaza Palestinians burned the U.S. and Israeli flags as Trump’s announcement later on Wednesday was revealed.
Turkey’s president Recey Tayyip Erdogan, who met King Abdullah of Jordan on Tuesday, had called the move on Jerusalem a ‘red line’. His spokesman on Wednesday said it was a ‘grave mistake that will virtually eliminate the fragile Middle East peace process.’
The post Outrage as Trump recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital •It’s a kiss of death —Palestinians appeared first on Tribune.