Trump recognises Jerusalem as Israeli capital, UNSC calls emergency meet
Donald Trump has also directed the State Department to immediately begin the process of construction of a US Embassy in Jerusalem.
United States President Donald Trump has formally recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel ignoring the warnings of many Arab leaders who believe that it could trigger an upheaval in the already volatile Middle East.
"I have determined it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Trump said in his live televised address while asserting that he was "not taking a position of any final status" of the ancient city that is also claimed by Palestine.
However, Trump reiterated his commitment to find a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. He has also directed the State Department to immediately begin the process of construction of a US Embassy in Jerusalem.
"The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement” he said while fulfilling one of his major campaign promises.
The US President said that the US Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995 pointing out that his three predecessors, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, issued waivers putting the law on hold.
"For over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law's waiver, refusing to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, or to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital city,” he said.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking immediately after Trump's announcement, delivered criticism couched in diplomatic terms, saying he was "against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians."
"Jerusalem is a final status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties on the basis of the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, taking into account the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides," Guterres added.
While nations and leaders, from China to Pope Francis criticised Trump's decision and even US allies have refused to follow Washington's lead on moving embassies to Jerusalem, there was no noticeable political opposition in the US from even the Democrats. In the US, politicians are loath to be seen as anti-Israel and Trump's move was a challenge to his domestic critics to make it a major politically issue.
Trump's announcement muddies the diplomatic waters in the Middle East where his son-in-law Jared Kushner is engaged in a so-far unsuccessful peace effort to bring Israel and Palestinians together for a solution to the contentious issue.
"The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides," Trump said. "I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement."
While declaring that he would ask the State Department to move the embassy to Jerusalem, he added, "This decision is not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement."
UN Security Council calls emergency session on Jerusalem
The UN Security Council will meet on Friday in emergency session to discuss the decision by US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the council's leadership announced today.
The talks - requested by eight nations - will begin at 10:00 am, but there are other items on the agenda, so the Jerusalem issue may not come up until the late morning, the council's Japanese presidency said.