Trump Declares Jerusalem the Capital of Israel

Controversial move comes despite protests from Arab world
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 6, 2017 12:41 PM CST
Updated Dec 6, 2017 4:25 PM CST
Trump Declares Jerusalem the Capital of Israel
President Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, speaks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Defying dire, worldwide warnings, President Trump on Wednesday broke with decades of US and international policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Trump declared that he was ending an approach that for decades has failed to advance the prospects for peace, per the AP. "I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," he said in a White House address, calling it "overdue" and in the best interests of the US. He said recognition acknowledged the "obvious"—that Jerusalem is the seat of Israel's government despite the disputed status that is one of the key elements in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "This is nothing more or less than the recognition of reality," Trump said. Here's what else you need to know:

  • The AP also reports the speech marked the first time Trump has publicly endorsed the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.
  • That endorsement may not mean much. "Trump has delivered a message to the Palestinian people: the two-state solution is over," the chief Palestinian peace negotiator tells Haaretz. "Now is the time to transform the struggle for one-state with equal rights for everyone living in historic Palestine."
  • Haroon Moghul at NBC News writes that could be a "silver lining." He argues the two-state solution hasn't been viable for years, calling it a "ruse" and waste of time. He says one state is "the only possible solution."
  • But following Trump's speech, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres held firm, Reuters reports. "I want to make it clear: There is no alternative to the two-state solution. There is no Plan B," he said.

  • A major part of Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital is moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. While Trump says the new embassy will be "a magnificent tribute to peace," CNN reports administration officials admit it will take years to actually move the embassy.
  • Abigail Tracy at Vanity Fair writes that Trump's move "blows up" any chance of Jared Kushner brokering the "ultimate deal"—as Trump called it—between Israel and Palestine, something Kushner has been working on for months.
  • Both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis were opposed to moving the embassy to Jerusalem over concerns it will endanger US diplomats and troops in the Middle East and elsewhere, according to the Hill, which cites reports from the AP and Reuters.
  • Meanwhile, the Washington Post has a three-minute video of Trump's speech.

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  • Marya Hannun writing at Slate calls Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital "immoral and illegal," and not for the most-cited reason of provoking violence from Muslims. She says the move violates a UN resolution and international law while legitimizing the Israeli government's illegal occupation of East Jerusalem.
  • While Trump is "being attacked for keeping a promise" on Jerusalem, it shows why he was elected president, Erick Erickson writes at Fox News. "Trump is committing the most grievance 'sin' any politician in Washington can commit. He is walking the walk instead of just talking the talk," Erickson says.
  • Yahoo has a slideshow of reactions to Trump's speech from around the world.
  • Finally, USA Today reports Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas says Trump's decision is "a declaration of withdrawal from the role (the US) has played in the peace process." With Palestinian leaders calling for three "days of rage," hundreds of Palestinians protested in the streets following Trump's speech.
(Read more President Trump stories.)

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