US Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

US President Donald Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital, announces plan to move embassy there, Washington, USA - 06 December 2017 (Photo: JIM LO SCALZO/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

The United States President Donald Trump announced that his government will from now on recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, instead of Tel Aviv. He has also confirmed plans to move the US Embassy to the Western Jerusalem area, adding that they support a two-state solution of the crisis.

Speaking at the White House, flanked by VP Mike Pence, Trump claimed he had judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. US President reminded the reporters he made a promise during the campaign that he will make this move, adding that the previous presidents also said they will do it, but didn’t.

Trump: Peace is never beyond the grasp

“There will of course be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement. But we are confident that ultimately as we work through these disagreements we will arrive at a peace and a place far greater in understanding and cooperation. This sacred city should call forth the best in humanity,” Trump said.

Peace is never beyond the grasp of those willing to reach it, so today we call for calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over their purveyors of hate, POTUS added,  It is time for the to expel the extremists from their midst, he said, before signing the document confirming the new policy.

This is the biggest shift in Washington’s dealing with the crisis in the last 50 years, analysts claim. Trump has also confirmed plans to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem in the next three years. This will be the only diplomatic institution of the highest order in the city. The move was long mulled over in the US politics, with the Congress approving the act in 1995, and reaffirming it with a wide bipartisan support six months ago.

Praises from Israel, condemnation from the international community

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called Trump’s remarks a “historic landmark” and urged other countries to follow suit by moving their embassies to Jerusalem. He added that any future peace deal with Palestinians must include Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“I also want to make clear: there will be no change whatsoever to the status quo at the holy sites. Israel will always ensure freedom of worship for Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. President Trump, thank you for today’s historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel‘s capital,” he concluded his response to the decision.

Other reactions to the decision have been more critical. The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has condemned Trump Administration’s decision, saying that this effectively means the US abdicating its role as peace mediator”.

“These procedures do also help in the extremist organizations to wage a religious war that would harm the entire region which is going through critical moments and would lead us into wars that will never end which we have warned about and always urged to fight against,” Abbas said.

Pope: Respect the status quo of Jerusalem

French President Emmanuel Macron refused to support Trump’s “unilateral” decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Speaking from Algiers, where he is on a diplomatic visit, Macron called the declaration “regrettable” before reiterating calls for the status of Jerusalem to be determined by Israelis and Palestinians through negotiations.

“This decision is a regrettable decision that France does not approve of and goes against international law and all the resolutions of the UN Security Council,” Macron told reporters.

Pope Francis called for respect of the “status quo” of Jerusalem, saying new tension in the Middle East would just further enflame world conflicts.

“I cannot hide my deep concern about the situation that has developed in the last days and, in the meantime, I make an urgent appeal to everybody to respect the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations. Jerusalem is a unique city, holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims who worship in this city”, the Pontiff said.

Bracing for the potential of violence in the wake of President Trump’s address, the US Diplomatic Mission in Turkey issued an alert warning of protests.

“The US Diplomatic Mission to Turkey is aware that several groups have announced public protests in the vicinity of several U.S. government diplomatic offices in Turkey, starting in the early evening of December 6, 2017. We urge US citizens to avoid all protests, especially those in the area of the US Embassy in Ankara, the US Consulate General in Istanbul, and the US Consulate in Adana” the alert stated.

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