The Associated PressWASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. President Donald Trump was to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of U.S. policy and risk potentially violent protests.
Trump will instruct the State Department to begin the multi-year process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, U.S. officials said Tuesday. It remains unclear, however, when he might take that physical step, which is required by U.S. law but has been waived on national security grounds for more than two decades.
The officials said numerous logistical and security details, as well as site determination and construction, will need to be finalized first. Because of those issues, the embassy is not likely to move for at least three or four years, presuming there is no future change in U.S. policy.
To that end, the officials said Trump will sign a waiver delaying the embassy move, which is required by U.S. law every six months. He will continue to sign the waiver until preparations for the embassy move are complete.
The officials said recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will be an acknowledgement of “historical and current reality” rather than a political statement and said the city’s physical and political borders will not be compromised. They noted that almost all of Israel’s government agencies and parliament are in Jerusalem, rather than Tel Aviv, where the U.S. and other countries maintain embassies.
The declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a rhetorical volley that could have its own dangerous consequences. The United States has never endorsed the Jewish state’s claim of sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem and has insisted its status be resolved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiation.