On Wednesday, Dec. 6, President Donald Trump made history by announcing that the US recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The city is not just the heart of three great faiths but also of one of the most successful democracies in the world, he said, a society where people are free to practice their faiths. It is the city which the Jews established in ancient times. He announced that Vice President Mike Pence would soon leave for the Middle East.
The president formally signed an order to the State Department to make preparations to construct a US embassy in Jerusalem as a “magnificent monument to peace.” For two decades previous presidents exercised the waiver, refusing to deliver on their promise to move the embassy or recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – although it was the will of Congress. “I am delivering,” Trump said. Two decades of waivers brought us no closer to peace than before and a repetition would not produce a better result. We believe that the new approach which I hereby announce is in the best interests of the US and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Every sovereign nation has the right to determine its capital. And for decades the Israeli parliament, the prime minister and president’s residences and the supreme court are located here. We are recognizing reality. This is not a departure from my commitment to achieve a peace agreement, the president declared solemnly. He declined to take a position on the boundaries of Jerusalem or contested borders and said a two state solution was acceptable if agreed to by both sides. The status quo at religious site is to be observed, including Harm al-Sharif. Trump emphasized that he hopes to forge a peace agreement that is “a great deal for Israel and the Palestinians.