Trump recognises Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Published: 07 December 2017

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The United States will now recognise the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in defiance of decades of US policy.

Making the announcement in the White House, US President Donald Trump said his administration would be taking steps to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv, the internationally-recognised capital, to Jerusalem.

It will take years to relocate the embassy, and will be the only country in the world to have an embassy in the city.

Jerusalem, a sacred site of Jewish, Muslim and Christian significance, is contested between Israel and the Palestinian Authority after Israel annexed the eastern sector in the city in a 1967 war.

While Israel has long considered the city its ‘eternal’ capital, it is generally regarded internationally as under “permanent international regime,” and the UN believes its status should be resolved in negotiations.

Mr Trump’s decision jeopardises the United States’ historical role as mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and is expected to fray relations with Arab countries.

“We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past,” he said.

“I have determined that it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the US’ decision as a “historic landmark” and as an “important step toward peace.”

Palestinian authorities condemned the move, calling it a “kiss of death” to the two-state solution: a suggested peace deal which would grant the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem to a Palestinian state.

China, Russia and the Pope each called for the status quo to be respected in Jerusalem, worried the plan could aggravate Middle East hostilities. 

Mr Trump attempted to soften the blow to Palestinians, insisting that he was not taking a position on” any final issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders.”