The 45th US president Donald Trump will today declare the formal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announce plans to move the American Embassy there, the White House has said.
The decision breaks with seven decades of American foreign policy, but makes good on a promise Trump made during his campaign last year.
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Later today, he will become the first US president to announce that Jerusalem is the Israeli capital since the founding of Israel in 1948.
He is also expected sign a national security waiver to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv for an additional six months before formally starting the process to reinstate it in Jerusalem, which will take several years.
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A Palestinian official said if the changes go ahead it would be a “kiss of death” for the Middle East peace process, but an Israeli minister urged other countries to support the US.
Israel’s education minister Naftali Bennett said moving the embassy marks a “big step towards regional peace”.
Amos Yadlin, executive director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies added:
The US recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a positive and important step, particularly amid Palestinian efforts to undermine the historic ties between the Jewish nation and the City of David.
Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, made clear that Trump’s decision has been a long time coming.
It is high time to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Not moving it to Jerusalem for 22 years has not brought us closer to peace.
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Meanwhile, the Palestinians’ representative to the UK, Manuel Hassassian, told the BBC:
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This is the last straw that will break the camel’s back. I don’t mean war in terms of conventional war, I mean war in terms of diplomacy.
King Salman of Saudi Arabia echoed Hassassian’s warning during a phone call with Trump on Tuesday night:
Moving the US embassy is a dangerous step that provokes the feelings of Muslims around the world.
On the eve of his announcement, Trump also spoke to Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.
Sisi urged Trump “not to complicate the situation in the region” and King Abdullah said the decision would “undermine efforts to resume the peace process”.
Pope Francis responded to Trump’s plans in Israel by calling for the “status quo” to be respected. Dialogue would only come through “recognising the rights of all people” in the region, he added.
Palestinian national and Islamic groups have issued a joint statement calling for three days of “popular anger” as a form of protest against Trump’s decision, starting on Wednesday.
Demonstrations are expected at US embassies and consulates around the world as well as in the Palestinian territories.
US government employees have been told to avoid Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank until further notice.
Jerusalem’s Old City has been a contested territory for many years as it is home to the third-holiest mosque in Islam, but also the holiest site in Judaism.
Trump, according to US officials, is not taking a position on whether, or how, Jerusalem should be divided between Israelis and Palestinians.