President Donald Trump said his plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there is overdue while world leaders from the Vatican to Tehran denounced his stance as risking fresh violence in the region.
“It’s long overdue,” Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting at the White House Wednesday. “Many presidents have said they want to do something and they didn’t.”
Trump said that he will address at that time how he believes his declaration will aid peace efforts between Israel and Palestinians. Other world leaders, including key U.S. allies, have warned the move could bury any hope of resolving the conflict.
At his weekly audience, Pope Francis called on “everyone” to respect the status quo in Jerusalem. He prayed for “wisdom and prudence to prevail to prevent new elements of tension from being added to a global context already convulsed by so many cruel conflicts.” He joined a chorus of pleas from European and Muslim leaders to scuttle the move.
“It is of vital importance for the future of the region and global peace that the US president not make such a statement,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said during
a trip to South Korea on Wednesday, hours before Trump’s announcement. Yildi-rim said the decision was “unlawful” and “could make already existing problems in the region more tangled.” On Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to cut recently restored ties with Israel.
Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is fraught with religious and political implications because the eastern sector of the city — home to some of the holiest ancient sites in Judaism, Christianity and Islam — is also claimed by Palestinians as the capital of a future state. Previous US administrations had resisted moves that could be seen as prejudging the city’s final status, for fear of provoking violent reactions, alienating
Muslim allies and further tormenting already troubled peace efforts.
Under a 1995 US law that declares an undivided Jeru-salem to be the capital of Israel, Trump faced a December 1 deadline to sign a waiver — required every six months — to delay the embassy’s move, something his predecessors have done for nearly two decades. He’ll still sign that waiver, and several more in
the years ahead, White House officials said, but he app-
ears intent on getting the process of moving the
Trump’s exact wording will be scrutinized. Officials who briefed reporters suggested the president would hold
off on declaring an “undiv-ided” Jerusalem to be
the capital or set a specific timetable for when an embassy would be constructed.
Trump’s vow to move the embassy was a campaign promise he made, to the satisfaction of Israeli nationalists and supporters including Jewish-American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who contributed millions to his campaign coffers.