Trump announces US to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

US decision and move of embassy to holy city condemned around the world

Palestinian demonstrators burn posters of the US president in Bethlehem’s Manger Square in protest to him declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Photograph: Musa al Shaer/AFP/Getty Images

Palestinian demonstrators burn posters of the US president in Bethlehem’s Manger Square in protest to him declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Photograph: Musa al Shaer/AFP/Getty Images

 

The United States has formally recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move its embassy to the deeply contested city, marking a dramatic shift in US policy towards the Middle East.

US president Donald Trump defied calls from several international leaders in advance of Wednesday’s announcement to reconsider his decision, instead confirming that the United States would recognise the holy city as Israel’s capital, risking a backlash from Palestinians and the Muslim world.

Mr Trump also ordered the State Department to begin preparations to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, although the relocation process is expected to take several years.

The status of Jerusalem is a highly sensitive issue in the region, with both Israelis and Palestinians claiming the ancient city as their capital.

In an address from the White House, Mr Trump said the decision was “a recognition of reality,” but was “also the right thing to do”.

No closer to peace

He said that previous US presidents had delayed recognising Jerusalem because they believed it would “advance the cause of peace”, but after two decades “we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians”.

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu hailed Mr Trump’s announcement as a “historic landmark” and urged other countries also to move their embassies to Jerusalem. Pope Francis was among the global figures who expressed “deep concern” about the move, while Turkey said that Mr Trump had plunged the region into “fire with no end”.

Ireland, which along with France and Sweden, has taken a leading role within the European Union in advocating a two-state solution, also strongly condemned the decision. Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney contacted the US embassy in Dublin in protest and described the decision as “premature and ill-advised”.