In his much heralded address on Wednesday afternoon, President Donald Trump announced that the US government officially recognized the city of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and announced that the US embassy in Israel would be relocated to Jerusalem in a speech at the White House.
“After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result,” Trump said, according to an INN report.
“Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
Israel National News also reported that the president said that Israel has the right to determine where its capital is located. “This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement. Israel is a sovereign nation, with the right–like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.”
“Jerusalem is the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times,” Trump said. “Today Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government.”
“Today, we finally acknowledged the obvious, that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do,” he stated.
“That is why, consistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparations to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers, and planners and that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace,” he added.
“Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residences of the Prime Minister and the President. It is the headquarters of many government ministries,” he said.
According to the INN report the president said that the announcements were not meant to prejudge the outcome of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority or the final boundaries of Jerusalem.
Trump’s decision upended seven decades of US foreign policy that has resisted a recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.
“Today, I am delivering,” Trump said, referencing his campaign promise.
Acknowledging the concerns he fielded a day earlier from regional Arab leaders, Trump underscored his decision by reaffirming the United States’ commitment to helping Israelis and Palestinians reach a peace agreement, according to a CNN report. He also stressed that his announcement did not mark a shift in US policy on the final boundaries of future Israeli and Palestinian states.
“We are not taking a position on any of the final status issues including the final boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem,” Trump said. “Those questions are up to the parties involved. The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides.”
“We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians,” he said. “The United States would support a two state solution if agreed to by both sides.”
The time has come to rethink strategy with an open mind, Trump continued, noting the lack of progress in achieving peace over the last 20 years.
In the immediate aftermath of President Trump’s address, the Jerusalem Post reported that on Wednesday the Czech Republic issued a statement declaring their recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In a statement on its Foreign Ministry’s web site, it said, “The Czech Republic currently, before the peace between Israel and Palestine is signed, recognizes Jerusalem to be in fact the capital of Israel in the borders of the demarcation line from 1967.”
“The Czech Republic together with other EU member states, following the EU Foreign Affaires Council Conclusions, considers Jerusalem to be future capital of both states, meaning the State of Israel and the future State of Palestine.”
INN reported that the Jerusalem Municipality on Wednesday evening lit up the walls of the Old City with the flags of the United States and Israel from Jaffa Gate towards Mount Zion, as a token of appreciation to President Trump for his recognition of Jerusalem.
The city also hung US flags along Agron, Shazar and Ruppin Streets, and the string bridge in Jerusalem was illuminated by the colors of the American flag.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said that “Trump’s announcement in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a historic declaration that sends a clear message to the entire world that the US stands by the Jewish people, the State of Israel and Jerusalem.”
“As a gesture and expression of the strong friendship between the American people and the people of Israel, we decided to light in the colors of the American and Israeli flags the walls of the Old City, which symbolizes, more than anything else, the strength of the Jewish people’s connection to Jerusalem for more than 3,000 years.”
The president of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, Dr. Jürgen Buller, welcomed the announcement by the American president. “We share the joy of the Jewish people over the fact that Jerusalem is receiving the recognition to which it is entitled,” said Bueller.
“This process, which should have been implemented long ago, is part of the heart of the national and historical identity of the Jewish people,” he added.
INN also reported that prior to President Trump’s historic announcement Samaria Regional Council Chairman Yossi Dagan sent a letter to the White House in support of the American president’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people.
About 250 rabbis from around the country signed the letter. Among the signatories: Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, Rabbi of Tzfat Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, and leading Religious Zionist Yeshiva Dean, Rabbi Chaim Druckman.
“You have a rare privilege now to be the first president to spearhead the recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the State of Israel,” the rabbis wrote. “We are sure that you will be remembered in the history of the Jewish people forever as one who stood at the fore and was not afraid. May God’s promise to Joshua be fulfilled upon you: ‘Did I not command you, be strong and have courage, do not fear and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’”
Head of the Samaria Council Yossi Dagan, as stated, transferred the letter to the White House, and said that “Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel, the American people understand it, everyone understands it, we support the president’s decision, but remember that the State of Israel is an independent state and needs to make its decisions by itself. ”
Rabbi Eliyahu, the initiator of the letter, said, “We see this recognition as yet another stage in the implementation of Isaiah’s prophecy of the gentiles’ recognition of the centrality of Jerusalem.”
“We hope that other enlightened and believing nations will follow in the United States’ footsteps.”
According to a Tazpit Press Service report, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as an “historic day” and a “landmark in the history of Jerusalem.”
In a video statement released minutes after Trump gave a televised address, Netanyahu said: “This is an historic day. President Trump’s declaration is an important landmark in the history of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem has been our capital for 3,000 years. Our forefathers walked here, the Holy Temple stood here, the Kings of Israel ruled here, the prophets spoke their prophecies here. For thousands of years, generations of Jews prayed “Next year in Jerusalem!”. By the rivers of Babylon and on the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto, generation after generation cried and dreamt of Zion.
70 years ago we realized our prayers and our dreams when we once again declared Jerusalem to be the capital of the Jewish state. Now, President Trump’s historic declaration recognizes that principle.
Mr President, we thank you for this just, brave decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to begin preparations to move the US embassy here. I call on other countries to follow the United States’ lead.
President Trump’s declaration will aid efforts to push forward the peace process because it returns everybody to the solid ground of reality. And the simple truth is this: There will be no peace without recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
And to our neighbors, let me add: we will continue to preserve the status quo in Jerusalem and at the Temple Mount, and freedom of religion for all faiths. We continue to hold our hand out in peace to the Palestinians, and to all our neighbors.
Mr President, history and the Jewish people will always remember you for the brave decision you made today. Thank you.”
TPS reported that left-wing Israelis were predictably less enthusiastic. Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said: “The meaning of Trump’s declaration is American recognition of the annexation of East Jerusalem and the Old City. Such a declaration is certainly not helpful for a regional move for peace, since any solution will require a compromise on sovereignty in Jerusalem. But such a move will certainly give a tailwind to the lunatic right in Israel.“
MK Ayman Odeh, the chairman of the Joint Arab List added that Trump had “thrown a match on the Middle East powder keg” and accused Trump of being indifferent to the implications of his decision.
“Trump the misanthrope does not care about the fate of Israelis and certainly not about the fate of Palestinians. His speech tonight was a combination of ignorance and arrogance… Trump has thrown a match on the Middle East and the price will be paid by the two peoples,” Odeh said.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said in response to Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem, “Our friend the US has made an important and historic decision by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the eternal capital of the Jewish people. We congratulate President Trump and hope that other countries will follow suit and adopt the policy of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
In a statement released to the media, the American Friends of Likud said: “President Trump delivered on his promise. He was not cowed by threats of violence from the Muslim enemies of Israel, nor did he relent to pressure from the international community that appeases terrorism. The President also has to overcome bureaucratic resistance from his own State Department.”
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder welcomed President Trump’s announcement officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“President Trump has taken a critical and courageous step today in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and reaffirming the United States’ commitment to a mutually agreed upon two-state solution. Jerusalem is the indisputable capital of Israel and the historic capital of the Jewish people. We hope that the US’ clear declaration to this effect, and its reiteration that this has long been its policy, sends a strong message to the international community of this truth.
The World Jewish Congress fully supports the US position that a peaceful solution to the longstanding conflict must be mutual, and we have affirmed this position in our organizational resolutions and advocacy on the international stage. “
The Orthodox Agudath Israel of America issued a statement saying: “To us, as believing Jews, the special status of Jerusalem is not dependent upon the formal recognition of governments or the nations of the world. To us, Yerushalayim is the Ir Hakodesh, the holy city, the place where the Holy Temples stood thousands of years ago, the place that has been in the prayers and hearts of the Jewish people wherever they may have been through their long years of exile, the place that has been our glorious history and will forever remain our ultimate destiny.”
The Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim under the leadership of Executive Vice President Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, released a statement to the media in which the prestigious organization congratulated “the Trump administration upon the United States’ recognition of the City of Jerusalem – both East and West- as being the united and eternal capital of the Jewish people, and for its decision to move the embassy in Israel to Jerusalem as something that is long overdue.”
The statement continued: “On behalf of the RAA, Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht issued a call to all nations that ascribe sovereignty to their own, to do the same for Israel, by respecting the inalienable rights of the Jewish people by officially recognizing the City of Jerusalem as being the eternal capital and heritage of the Jewish people.”
Rabbi Elazar Muskin, president of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), stated, “Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people since King David built his palace there and King Solomon brought the Holy Temple to Mount Moriah, and for the past 68 years, the State of Israel has considered Jerusalem as its capital. We express our appreciation to the president and his administration for this recognition as well as for their staunch support for the State of Israel, a bipartisan tradition in the US for many decades. We call upon the nations of the world follow this example and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
The American Friends of Ateret Cohanim issued their heartfelt appreciation to President Trump for “recognizing our 3800 year bond to the city of Jerusalem. Thank you Senators, thank you Congressmen, and thank you fellow citizens of the United States for your unwavering support.”
They added that “American Friends of Ateret Cohanim has long championed the unity of Jerusalem. Our donors have encouraged us by their generosity to go forward and never waiver. And we have never let them down and we will never let Jerusalem down. We promise to continue our mission “To strengthen Jewish roots and life, in and around the Old City of Jerusalem”.
Allen Fagin, the Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union stated: “For the past twenty-two years, the Orthodox Union has persistently and proudly advocated for Presidents and their Administrations to do the right thing – consistent with the duly enacted law – and move our Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem. Therefore – today – we applaud President Trump for his historic announcement and for beginning the process of relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.”
Americans For a Safe Israel (AFSI), the pro-Israel and pro-settlement advocacy group also released a statement to the media. “We applaud and strongly support President Trump’s announcement today that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Since ancient times Jerusalem has been the capital of only one nation, Israel, and it is time that the entire world finally recognizes this fact. Helen Freedman, the executive director of AFSI added, “May the day arrive soon that the United States embassy and other countries’ embassies will be moved to Jerusalem, and as US Ambassador Friedman says, he will be conducting his business from Israel’s capital.”
As was expected, leaders from within the Muslim world and from the wider international community were swift to criticize the move, and warned of the potential for violence and bloodshed as a result, according to a BBC report.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the decision was tantamount to the United States “abdicating its role as a peace mediator” after a decade of sponsoring the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
“These deplorable and unacceptable measures deliberately undermine all peace efforts,” he said in a speech after Mr Trump’s announcement.
He insisted that Jerusalem was the “eternal capital of the state of Palestine, according to the BBC report.
Palestinian Islamist group Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said: “Our Palestinian people everywhere will not allow this conspiracy to pass, and their options are open in defending their land and their sacred places.”
The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the decision was “irresponsible.”
The BBC reported that he wrote on Twitter that “the decision is against international law and relevant UN resolutions”.
Saudi Arabian media say King Salman told Trump by telephone: “Any declaration on the status of Jerusalem before reaching a final settlement would harm the peace negotiation process and escalate tension in the region.”
His views were echoed by President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, who warned against “complicating the situation in the region by introducing measures that would undermine chances for peace in the Middle East”.
The Arab League called it “a dangerous measure that would have repercussions” across the region, and also questioned the future role of the US as a “trusted mediator” in peace talks.
The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said: “It is out of despair and debility that they want to declare Jerusalem as capital of the Zionist regime. On the issue of Palestine, their hands are tied and they can’t achieve their goals.”
Meanwhile, Jordan’s King Abdullah called for joint efforts to “deal with the ramifications of this decision and to counter any action that undermines the Palestinian people’s aspirations for their own independent state, with East Jerusalem as its capital”.
Pope Francis said: “I cannot silence my deep concern over the situation that has emerged in recent days. At the same time, I appeal strongly for all to respect the city’s status quo, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions.”
The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said President Trump’s statement “would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians”.
Mr Guterres said Jerusalem was “a final status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties”.
Such negotiations must take “into account the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinians and the Israeli sides,” he said.
The European Union called for the “resumption of a meaningful peace process towards a two-state solution” and said “a way must be found, through negotiations, to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states, so that the aspiration of both parties can be fulfilled”.
French President Emmanuel Macron said President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “regrettable”.
He called efforts for “avoid violence at all costs.”
Both China and Russia also expressed their concern that the move could lead to an escalation of tensions in the region.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the British government disagreed with the US decision which was “unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region”.
In a statement she said: “The British embassy to Israel is based in Tel Aviv and we have no plans to move it.
“Our position on the status of Jerusalem is clear and longstanding: it should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states. In line with relevant [UN] Security Council Resolutions, we regard East Jerusalem as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
By: Fern Sidman