In a much controversial move, US President Donald Trump on Wednesday recognised the disputed city of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and announced to shift the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the US leader said in a speech from the White House. “It’s the right thing to do.”
US President Trump announced his decision amid severe global criticism and warnings that the move would jeopardise the regional peace and create unrest among the Muslim block of the world.
He said his decision marked the start of a “new approach” to solving the thorny conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Since 1995 it has been the US law that Washington’s embassy in Israel must be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as demanded by the Jewish state. But every six months since the law was passed a succession of US presidents have signed a waiver to hold off on a switch.
Trump’s announcement plunges the United States into a decades-long dispute over a city considered holy by Jews, Muslims and Christians, and flies in the face of warnings from US allies and leaders across the Middle East.
The US president was expected to stop short of moving the embassy to Jerusalem outright — a central campaign pledge which his administration has postponed once already. Trump was due to decide the matter on last Monday but his administration decided to delay the move till today, probably because of global criticism.
So far, all foreign embassies are located in Tel Aviv with consular representation in Jerusalem. The status of Jerusalem is a key issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with both Israelis and Palestinians claiming the city as their capital.