US President Donald Trump formally recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital yesterday and announced that the State Department is preparing to relocate the US Embassy.
In a televised address from the White House, Trump said that he had “judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” and called the decision “a long-overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement”.
“Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world… Israeli people have built a country where Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and according to their beliefs,” he added.
The President also reaffirmed “support for the status quo at the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al Sharif”. Trump was clear that “we are not taking any position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem” and he said that ‘The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the announcement, calling it “a historic day” and an “important step towards peace”.
“I share President Trump’s commitment to advancing peace between Israel and all of our neighbours, including the Palestinians, and we will continue to work with the President and his team to make that dream of peace come true,” he added.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin agreed, saying “there is no greater and more appropriate gift to mark 70 years since the establishment of the State of Israel”.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called Jerusalem “the eternal capital of Palestine” and said that “the decision has resulted in the United States being unable to serve as a mediator in future negotiations.” “Recognition of Jerusalem is a reward to the Israeli regime and undermines every effort to achieve peace in the Middle East,” he added.