Trump likely to recog­nise Jerusalem as Is­rael's cap­i­tal next week

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - INTERNATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON, Dec 2 ( Reuters) - Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is likely to an­nounce next week that the US recog­nises Jerusalem as Is­rael's cap­i­tal, a se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said on Fri­day, a move that would up­end decades of Amer­i­can pol­icy and pos­si­bly in­flame ten­sions in the Mid­dle East.

Trump could make the con­tro­ver­sial dec­la­ra­tion in a speech on Wed­nes­day though he is also ex­pected to again de­lay his cam­paign prom­ise to move the US em­bassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The se­nior of­fi­cial and two other gov­ern­ment sources said fi­nal de­ci­sions had not yet been made.

The Pales­tini­ans want Jerusalem as the cap­i­tal of their fu­ture state, and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity does not recog­nise Is­rael's claim on all of the city, home to sites holy to the Jewish, Mus­lim and Chris­tian re­li­gions.

Word of Trump's planned an­nounce­ment, which would de­vi­ate from pre­vi­ous US pres­i­dents who have in­sisted the Jerusalem's sta­tus must be de­cided in ne­go­ti­a­tions, drew crit­i­cism from the Pales­tinian Author­ity and was sure to anger the broader Arab world.

It could also un­ravel the US ad­min­is­tra­tion's fledg­ling diplo­matic ef­fort, led by Trump's son-in-law and se­nior ad­viser Jared Kush­ner, to restart longstalled Is­raeli-Pales­tinian peace talks and en­list the sup­port of US Arab al­lies.

Na­bil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas, said US recog­ni­tion of Jerusalem as Is­rael's cap­i­tal would “de­stroy the peace process” and “desta­bilise the re­gion.” Such a move, how­ever, could help sat­isfy the pro-Is­rael, right-wing base that helped Trump win the pres­i­dency and also please the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment, a US ally.

The se­nior US of­fi­cial, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, said de­tails were still be­ing fi­nalised and could change. Tump's im­pend­ing de­ci­sions on Jerusalem, one of the most sen­si­tive core issues of the Is­raeliPales­tinian con­flict, fol­low in­ter­nal de­lib­er­a­tions in which the pres­i­dent has weighed in, a White House aide said.

Ul­tra Ortho­dox Jews look at the city of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. Dome of the Rock mosque is on the right. AFP

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