Jerusalem is Israel's capital: Trump

Published: 07 Dec 2017 | Updated: 07 Dec 2017

Online Desk

President Donald Trump has announced that the US now recognises Jerusalem as Israel's capital, overturning decades of official US policy.

Mr Trump described the move as "a long overdue step" to advance the Middle East peace process.

The fate of the ancient city is one of the thorniest issues between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel called Mr Trump's move "historic" but there has been sharp international criticism, BBC reports. 

Mr Trump said the US still supported a two-state solution to the longstanding conflict, if approved by both sides, which would essentially see the creation of an independent Palestinian state living alongside Israel.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Mr Trump's announcement "deplorable", saying the US could no longer be a peace broker.

Eight of the 15 nations who are currently members of the United Nations Security Council have called for the body to hold an urgent meeting on the US decision by the end of the week.

Why is this significant?

The decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital puts the US at odds with the rest of the international community's view on Jerusalem's status.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and according to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognised internationally, and until now all countries have maintained their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem contains sites sacred to the three major monotheistic faiths - Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, was annexed by Israel after the Six Day War of 1967, but is not internationally recognised as part of Israel.

What did Trump say?

Speaking at the White House, the US president said he had "judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians".

He said he was directing the US state department to begin preparations to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"Today, I am delivering," the US leader said, referencing the campaign pledge.

Recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital was "nothing more or less than a recognition of reality", he added. "It is also the right thing to do."

The Republican Jewish Coalition have already thanked the president in a New York Times ad. The group is backed by Republican and Trump campaign mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.

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