Sun | May 26, 2019

Trump flouts warnings, declares Jerusalem Israel's capital

Published:Thursday | December 7, 2017 | 12:00 AM
President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, holds up a signed proclamation recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House yesterday.


Defying dire, worldwide warnings, President Donald Trump yesterday broke with decades of US and international policy and formally recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Despite urgent appeals from Arab and European leaders and the risk of anti-American protests and violence, Trump declared it was time for a new approach to Mideast peace after decades of failure. Calling Jerusalem Israel's capital, he argued, was merely recognising the obvious.

"We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past," the president said.

He also said the US would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, though he set no timetable.

Ahead of Trump's speech, a wide array of world leaders warned that his declaration could severely damage Arab-Israeli peace prospects in a region wracked by instability. They said recognising Israel's claims to the city, however caveated, would infuriate Muslims and potentially spark protests and violence that might further fray American alliances.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his nation was "profoundly grateful" and Trump's announcement was an "important step towards peace".

However, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that the US shift "is a declaration of withdrawal from the role it has played in the peace process".

In Gaza, hundreds of Palestinian protesters burned American and Israeli flags. They also waved Palestinian flags and banners proclaiming Jerusalem as their "eternal capital", language that Israelis similarly use. Even America's closest allies in Europe questioned the wisdom of Trump's departure from the past US position, which was studiously neutral over the sovereignty of the city.