Wednesday, December 06, 2017 1:00 am
Trump to say Jerusalem Israel's capital
Move would go against decades of US policy, advice of many leaders
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump plans to upend decades of U.S. policy by formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and ordering the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to that city, senior aides said, a decision that could derail the White House's peace efforts and spark regional unrest.
Trump will make his pronouncement today after months of deliberation within his administration and consultations with governments in the Middle East.
But in a sign of the complexities of such a shift, White House aides emphasized that Trump will sign another six-month waiver maintaining the embassy's current location in Tel Aviv because the process of moving it will take at least three or four years.
Without the waiver, which has been signed by every U.S. president for more than two decades, crucial State Department funding to the embassy would be cut off.
The president began informing his counterparts in the region of his decision Tuesday, prompting warnings from several countries that the move would inflame Muslims and disrupt progress toward a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
U.S. allies in Europe, including France, also have opposed such a change in policy, and the State Department sent a classified memo to embassies in the Mideast late last month warning of potential anti-American protests.
“Our president said, 'You don't have anything that would make up for this on Jerusalem,'” said Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who said Abbas had personally briefed him on the call.
Abbas told Trump that he would “not accept it” and warned that the president was “playing into the hands of extremism.”
But Trump “just went on saying he had to do it,” Shaath said.
In Riyadh, the Saudi Press Agency said King Salman bin Abdul Aziz warned Trump “that such a dangerous step ... would constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims, all over the world.”
The backlash from other Middle East nations mounted Tuesday.
Speaking to the Turkish parliament, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said American recognition of Jerusalem would be a “red line” for Muslims, possibly forcing Turkey to cut diplomatic ties with Israel recently renewed after a six-year hiatus.
Senior White House officials described Trump's decision as the fulfillment of a key campaign promise that has broad bipartisan support in Congress.
They emphasized the move will not fundamentally change other aspects of U.S. policy. They said, Trump remains supportive of a two-state solution, if that's what the parties agree to, and the administration is maintaining the status quo on Jerusalem's holy sites.
The officials said Trump is simply recognizing the reality that Jerusalem has historically been Israel's capital.