Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's Capital, with No Position on Final Status
WASHINGTON -- President Trump today recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saying he wants to build an embassy there that's a "magnificent tribute to peace" and stressing that Washington isn't making a determination on the final status of the city in peace process negotiations.
Trump billed his announcement in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House as "the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians."
He said previous presidents who issued national security waivers to stall compliance with the embassy move as required by a 1995 law -- Trump issued such a waiver in June -- "made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time" but "after more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians."
Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is "in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians," he said. "...Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world."
"Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque."
Trump said the State Department will begin "hiring architects, engineers, and planners" in preparation for the U.S. Embassy move from Tel Aviv.
"This decision is not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement. We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians. We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved," the president emphasized.
"The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement. Without question, Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in those talks. The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides," he added. "In the meantime, I call on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem's holy sites, including the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif."
Trump acknowledged there will "be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement" -- Arab allies have already sounded off against the move -- "but we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a peace and a place far greater in understanding and cooperation."