WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that the American Embassy in the Jewish state will be moved from Tel Aviv to the Holy City.
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the president said in a televised address from the White House.
He insisted that his decision did not signify US abandonment of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process or of Washington’s long-held policy in favor of a two-state solution.
Palestinians see East Jerusalem, which was seized by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, as the capital of their future state.
“The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement,” Trump said.
The president said that he was instructing the State Department “to begin preparations to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem” in accord with a 1995 act of Congress.
That law included a provision allowing the president to sign a waiver maintaining the embassy in Tel Aviv, a practice adopted by Trump’s predecessors.
Administration officials said Trump will renew the waiver, as the construction of a new embassy in Jerusalem will require several years.
The State Department will start the process of finding architects and contractors to erect an embassy that will be a “a magnificent tribute to peace,” Trump said.
Acknowledging the likelihood of “disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement,” the president appealed for “calm” and “for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate.”
“Let us rededicate ourselves to a path of mutual understanding and respect,” he said.
Until now, no nation that maintains diplomatic relations with Israel has moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, while under the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians, the city’s final status is to be settled by negotiations.