President Trump on Wednesday formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying it’s time to “acknowledge the obvious” as he ordered the State Department to begin relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the president said during a speech in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.
President Trump further said, “this is nothing more or less than recognition of reality,” Trump said. “It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”
Trump acknowledged the opposition from other countries in the Middle East to his decision, saying Vice President Mike Pence will be “traveling to the region” in the coming days.
Recall, this decision is in fulfillment of Trump’s campaign promise to religious conservatives; however, political analyst has called for caution as this could further inflame tensions across the Middle East.
“There will of course be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement,” Trump said. “But we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a peace and place far greater in understanding and cooperation.”
During his remarks, Trump emphasized he is still committed to a peace deal between the two sides.
“This decision is not intended in any way to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement,” he said. “We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians.”
The U.S. would be the first country to move its embassy to Jerusalem, which is claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians. Other countries that have diplomatic relations with Israel keep their embassies in Tel Aviv; Nevertheless, the embassy relocation would not be immediate and could take at least three or four years.
“This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers and planners so that a new embassy when completed will be a magnificent tribute to peace,” Trump said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a televised message, thanked Trump for what he called a “courageous and just” decision.
“This decision reflects the president’s commitment to an ancient but enduring truth,” Netanyahu said. “The president’s decision is an important step toward peace, for there is no peace that doesn’t include Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”