President Donald Trump is likely to announce next week that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a senior administration official said on Friday, following through on a promise he made several times on the campaign trail.
Trump is considering delivering a speech or issuing a statement in which he would announce Jerusalem’s recognition as the Israeli capital, on Wednesday, AP and Reuters report, citing White House officials familiar with the issue. However, the US president is also expected to once again delay his campaign promise concerning the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Via Western Journalism:
Axios reports that two sources with “direct knowledge” of the situation have confirmed that the Republican president will make the major announcement Wednesday.
The White House is still not confirming the news.
“The president has always said it is a matter of when, not if,” a White House spokesman said. “The president is still considering options and we have nothing to announce.”
The move would mark a historic turning point for American-Israeli relations, as the two countries are major allies on the world stage and Israeli leaders have long sought out official recognition of Jerusalem by the United States.
The move, however, would likely strain peace talks between Israel and Palestine, as the fight for control of the holy city has long been at the heart of the ongoing conflict.
White House adviser and son-in-law to the president, Jared Kushner, has taken the lead on fomenting a peace deal between the two factions.
Along with recognizing the capital, the Trump administration is currently mulling whether to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Speaking at an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the United Nation’s vote that paved the way for the creation of Israel, Vice President Mike Pence reiterated his administration’s stance on the embassy move.
“While for the past 20 years, Congress and successive administrations have expressed a willingness to move our embassy, as we speak, President Donald Trump is actively considering when and how to move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Pence declared.
A 1995 law passed in Congress has called for the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv, the country’s commercial capital, to Jerusalem. However, a clause within the legislation allowed for the sitting president to sign six-month delays of the move.
Every president since Bill Clinton has opted to keep signing the waiver — to the disappointment of Israeli leaders.
Things have been remarkably different since the arrival of Donald Trump, a Republican who campaigned last year on better relations with the Jewish State and, since becoming president, has already had a much better relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than his predecessor.
“The Trump administration is far better than Obama was. Obama was very clearly resentful to our Prime Minister Netanyahu, an attitude that most regular Israelis took as a direct and personal insult,” said David Ha’ivri in an exchange with The Western Journal.
Ha’ivri is an Independent Strategist who lives in Shomron, Israel (West Bank), and follows the region’s politics closely.
“On that point alone, Trump is the total opposite, he clearly admires Netanyahu and is very warm to him, Israelis feel that friendship.”
Beyond not giving recognition to Jerusalem and continually punting on the relocation of the U.S. embassy, former President Obama developed a souring relationship with the Israeli prime minister after pushing through the Iran Deal, a 2015 international agreement that opened economic doors to Iran in the hopes that the rogue regime would discontinue its nuclear program.
Netanyahu had vehemently lobbied against the deal to no avail. However, the Israeli leader found a friend in opposing it: then-candidate Donald Trump. The Republican presidential contender threatened to walk away from the deal and has still considered that option since entering office.
According to Ha’ivri and other Israelis, there is still more they’d like to see the current administration do to better relations. The Shomron-based strategist has been disheartened by certain inactions by Trump.
“I am disappointed to see the current administration and its special envoys continue efforts to revive the failed Oslo two state delusion and engage with the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) and its terror funding Palestinian Authority.”
“I would like to see the US government stop all funding to the thugs of the PA/PLO and instead support sincere programs for peace and coexistence which have been silenced by those thugs for the past two decades,” Ha’ivri continued.
Nevertheless, the expected moves by the Trump administration are considered major for Israel, the U.S’s strongest ally in the Middle East.
While recognizing Jerusalem as the capital city is all but certain, lingering doubt remains as to whether Trump will move the embassy or choose to sign another six-month delay, giving him more time to has out logistics.
But according to White House officials, moving the embassy is a matter of “when, not if.”
Israel has long insisted that Jerusalem is its capital, but all foreign embassies are located in Tel Aviv. The 1948 partition of Israel named Jerusalem an “international city” and most states have refused to guarantee that they will accept a new Israeli capital even as part of a negotiated solution. In April 2017, Moscow said it could only recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital if the eastern part of the city would become the capital of the Palestinian state.