President Donald Trump has decided to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and begin what is expected to be a years-long process of moving the US Embassy to the contested city, three senior US officials confirmed in a call with reporters on Tuesday.
The move breaks with the longstanding international consensus to refrain from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital until it brokers a peace agreement with the Palestinians, but satisfies a key campaign pledge Trump made in a March 2016 speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful pro-Israel lobbying group.
“We view this as a recognition of reality,” a senior official said.
The decision followed a series of phone calls Trump held with key US partners in Europe and the Middle East who urged the president not to make the symbolically fraught move. But Trump’s Middle East team, which includes his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his longtime lawyer Jason Greenblatt, worked in lockstep with the Israelis, who have hailed the “historic”decision as a boon to their efforts to win international recognition of Jerusalem as their “eternal capital.”
In anticipation of mass protests in response to the move, the State Department issued a travel warning to US employees and their families not to visit Jerusalem’s Old City or the West Bank, including Bethlehem and Jericho.