President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday and 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.”