President Donald Trump recognised the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Wednesday — a historic decision that overturns decades of US policy and risks triggering a fresh spasm of violence in the Middle East.
“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital,” the US leader declared from the White House. “Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.”
“It is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said, urging calm and “the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate.”
The declaration — met by fierce regional condemnation — ends seven decades of deliberate diplomatic ambiguity about the final status of a holy city vociferously claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians.
Although welcomed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “courageous and just decision,” Trump’s move also left the already faltering peace process in deep doubt.
Mahmud Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Organization said Trump has destroyed the two-state solution, warning the United States could no longer hope to be a peace broker, while Hamas — the Palestinian Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip — said Trump’s decision opens “the gates of hell on US interests in the region.”
Making the announcement, Trump also kicked off the process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
That makes good on a campaign promise dear to evangelical Christian and right wing Jewish voters — as well as donors — in what he said marked the start of a “new approach” to solving the thorny Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Trump’s predecessors — from Bill Clinton to George Bush — made similar campaign promises. But they quickly reneged upon taking office and assuming the burden of war and peace.
Having taken office with no foreign policy experience and denouncing experts, Trump was determined to show his arrival in Washington spells the end of business as usual.
“Many presidents have said they want to do something and they didn’t do it,” Trump said in the run-up to his historic address.
“Whether it’s courage or they changed their mind, I can’t tell you,” he said. “I think it’s long