Donald Trump recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reversing decades of US policy
US President Donald Trump maintained that the announcement did not impact any other aspect of the Israel-Palestine dispute, the negotiations and situation on the ground, and will not change the city’s geographic and political borders, which will still be determined by Israel and the Palestinians.Updated: Dec 07, 2017 07:33 IST
President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, overturning decades of US diplomacy and drawing sharp criticism from the world, especially Arabs and Muslims.
The president also announced he had directed the state government to begin the process of relocating the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, that was in line with a 22-year-old US law that had passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and that fulfilled a major campaign promise.
“It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said in prepared remarks from the White House, presenting the announcement as a major policy shift. “My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.”
The move has elicited sharp reaction from outraged Palestinians, who claim a major part of the historic city. “This is a gift to Israel,” Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian authority president, said in a televised address, and added, according to Al Jazeera, the United States could no longer play the mediator in Israel-Palestinian negotiations.
Palestinian Liberation Organization’s top negotiator Saeb Erekat told reports, “This step is prejudging, dictating, closing doors for negotiations, and I think President Trump tonight disqualified the United States of America to play any role in any peace process.”
Regional allies of the United States, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, had already expressed their dissent in the run up to the announcement, said it was dangerous and will complicate an already complex issue that has defied resolution for decades and make peace that much more difficult to achieve.
But President Trump who had made the recognition of Jerusalem and relocation of the embassy a campaign promise had pressed on. “This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement,” he said in the remarks that were along the lines previewed by administration officials on Tuesday.
Trump maintained that the announcement did not impact any other aspect of the Israel-Palestine dispute, the negotiations and situation on the ground, and will not change the city’s geographic and political borders, which will still be determined by Israel and the Palestinians.
“We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved,” he said.
But, he added, “Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.”
West Jerusalem houses the Israeli Knesset, the supreme court, the home and offices of the president, the prime minister — that’s the reality Trump was referring to.
But because it’s considered a disputed city, all countries with bilateral relations with Israel have their embassies in Tel Aviv, including India.
Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 war, and see it as the seat of their future nation.
The announcement, which Trump said is “a recognition of reality”, reverses decades of US policy that had bipartisan purchase from Republican and Democratic administrations, neither of which moved to implement the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which was passed by an overwhelming majority in both houses and which mandated the state department to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing it as the capital of Israel.
Allies in the region and outside have already protested, and will continue to, as reflected in statements emerging from their leaders. To them, the US president said, “There will, of course, be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement. But we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a peace and a place far greater in understanding and cooperation.”
Aware that tensions could flare because of his announcement — the Palestinians had called for three days of rage in protest — Trump called for “for calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate. Our children should inherit our love, not our conflicts”.