MNA International Desk: President Donald Trump reversed decades of US policy on Wednesday and recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in defiance of warnings from around the world that the gesture risks creating further unrest in the Middle East.
In a speech at the White House, Trump said his administration would begin a process of moving the US embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is expected to take years.
The status of Jerusalem — home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions — is one of the thorniest obstacles to reaching a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said. “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.”
Israel considers the city its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed in a move never recognised internationally.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Trump’s announcement as a “historic landmark” and urged other countries also to move their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem.
He said any peace deal with Palestinians must include Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This would be a non-starter for Palestinians if it means the entire city would be under Israeli control.
The Palestinians have said Trump’s move would mean the “kiss of death” to the two-state solution, envisaging a Palestinian state in territory – the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem – that Israel took in 1967.