US President Donald Trump on Wednesday formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel inviting condemnations and ignoring 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 U.S. 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.
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 recognized 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.
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.
Ahead of Trump’s announcement, Washington’s allies in the region warned of dangerous repercussions.