Trump de­clares Jerusalem Is­raeli cap­i­tal

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WASH­ING­TON (AP) — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­clared Jerusalem as Israel’s cap­i­tal on Wed­nes­day, af­firm­ing a pol­icy that has been re­peat­edly en­dorsed by Congress..

Trump said that af­ter re­peated peace fail­ures it was past time for a new ap­proach, start­ing with a de­ci­sion based on re­al­ity to rec­og­nize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s gov­ern­ment. He also said the United States would move its em­bassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, though he set no timetable.

“We can­not solve our prob­lems by mak­ing the same failed as­sump­tions and re­peat­ing the same failed strate­gies of the past,” Trump said, brush­ing aside the ap­peals for cau­tion from around the world.

Israel’s Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu hailed Trump’s an­nounce­ment as an “im­por­tant step to­ward peace,” and Is­raeli op­po­si­tion lead­ers echoed his praise.

Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion of Jerusalem as Israel’s cap­i­tal is a pow­er­fully sym­bolic state­ment about a city that houses many of the world’s holi­est sites. Trump cited sev­eral: the Western Wall that sur­rounded the Jews’ an­cient Tem­ple, the Sta­tions of the Cross that de­pict Je­sus along his cru­ci­fix­ion path, the al-Asqa Mosque where Mus­lims say their Prophet Muham­mad as­cended to heaven.

And there are ma­jor

ram­i­fi­ca­tions over who should con­trol the ter­ri­tory. Trump has dis­patched top emis­saries to the re­gion in re­cent months in hopes of ad­vanc­ing new ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Trump said he wasn’t de­liv­er­ing any ver­dict about where an Is­raeli-Pales­tinian bor­der should lie. In­stead, he de­scribed his Jerusalem dec­la­ra­tion as rec­og­niz­ing the re­al­ity that most of Israel’s gov­ern­ment al­ready op­er­ates from the city, and he sug­gested the U.S. ally should be re­warded for cre­at­ing a suc­cess­ful democ­racy where “peo­ple of all faiths are free to live and wor­ship.”

“To­day we fi­nally ac­knowl­edge the ob­vi­ous,” he said, em­pha­siz­ing that he wouldn’t fol­low past pres­i­dents who tip­toed around Jerusalem out of diplo­matic cau­tion.

U.S. em­bassies and con­sulates around the world were put on high alert. Across the Mid­dle East and Europe, they is­sued warn­ings to Amer­i­cans to watch out for vi­o­lent at­tacks. In Jor­dan, home to a large Pales­tinian pop­u­la­tion, the U.S. said it would close its em­bassy to the pub­lic Thurs­day and urged chil­dren of diplo­mats there to stay home from school.

Later Wed­nes­day, the State De­part­ment is­sued an up­dated “World­wide Cau­tion” to U.S. cit­i­zens abroad, ad­vis­ing trav­el­ers to “be alert to the possibility of po­lit­i­cal un­rest, vi­o­lence, demon­stra­tions, and crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties.”

For the first time, Trump did ap­pear to en­dorse the con­cept of an in­de­pen­dent Pales­tine ex­ist­ing along­side Israel. Yet even that idea ap­peared con­di­tional, as he said he’d pro­mote the “two-state so­lu­tion” if both sides agreed. Ne­tanyahu’s gov­ern­ment is dom­i­nated by hard­lin­ers who op­pose Pales­tinian in­de­pen­dence.

Trump made no ref­er­ence to sign­ing a waiver that of­fi­cially delays any move of the U.S. Em­bassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but the White House con­firmed he signed the waiver Wed­nes­day. It means there will be no em­bassy move for at least an­other six months.

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