Trump declares Jerusalem Israeli capital
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.