(JNS) President Donald Trump made a historic announcement on Wednesday in recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and declaring plans to eventually move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, fulfilling a key campaign pledge.
In an address from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House with Vice President Mike Pence standing behind him, Trump called the policy changes “long overdue” and said recognition of Jerusalem as the capital is “obvious” given that all of Israel’s functions of government—from the Knesset to the prime minister’s residence—are located in that city.
“This is nothing more or less than the recognition of reality,” said Trump. “It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”
The president dismissed concerns that his decision could damage the peace process, saying that “after more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.” Trump was referring to successive six-month waivers delaying the embassy move that U.S. presidents have signed since 1995, when Congress passed legislation authorizing the relocation.
“There will of course be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement,” Trump said. “But we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a peace and place far greater in understanding and cooperation.”
An eventual embassy move would make the U.S. the only country with an embassy in Jerusalem. But the relocation will not take place immediately, as there is no facility in Jerusalem ready to serve the more than 1,000 personnel at the current American embassy in Tel Aviv.
“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,” Trump said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is “profoundly grateful for the president for his courageous and just decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to prepare for the opening of the U.S. embassy here.”
Netanyahu added that the move reflects Trump’s “commitment to an ancient but enduring truth, to fulfilling his promises and to advancing peace.”
Similarly, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called the announcement a “landmark in the recognition of the right of the Jewish people to our land, and a milestone on our road to peace—peace for all the residents of Jerusalem, and the whole region.”