President Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel in a speech on Wednesday. The United States was one of the first nations to recognize Israel as a country in 1948, but had never recognized Jerusalem as its capital. The US had considered Tel Aviv to be the Israeli capital until today.
“It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” President Trump said in New York Times transcript. “This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement.”
“Today we finally acknowledge the obvious,” added the president. “That Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality.”
Jerusalem and the British territory of Palestine were partitioned between Arabs and Jews by the United Nations in 1947. Israel declared its portion of Jerusalem to be its capital in 1949. Israel forces reunified the city during the Six Day War of 1967, but Arabs consider East Jerusalem to be capital of the Palestinian state.
Trump indicated that relocating the US embassy to Jerusalem will come soon. “I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” he said. “This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers and planners so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.”
“This decision is not intended in any way to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement,” Trump added. “The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides.”