US President Donald Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, thereby reversing nearly seven decades of US foreign policy. By doing so, he has set into motion a plan to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv.
The President presented his decision as a break from failed US policy. Since Israel's founding in 1948, the US has followed the international community in declining to recognize the historical city as the capital of the Middle Eastern state.
The President emphasized that the decision to recognize Jerusalem should not be construed as a US tilt towards Israel. However, he offered no solace for Palestinians hoping to establish East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.
He spun the decision as one that had to do with a promise he had made during the 2016 Presidential election.
He called for “calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate.”
His announcement has attracted a chorus of concern and criticism.
Pope Francis and the Chinese foreign ministry warned that such a move could unleash a wave of violence across the region. In Brussels, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson faced stern reproach from European allies.
The European Union’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, stated unambiguously that Europe considered the president’s decision to be a threat to peace in the Middle East.
However, US officials claimed that the decision was a recognition of current and historic reality. They said that West Jerusalem was the seat of the Israeli government, and its recognition made the American position unambiguous.