Photo: Donald Trump officially makes a speech recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital. (AP: Alex Brandon)
Donald Trump recognises Jerusalem as Israeli capital
7 Dec 2017,
US President Donald Trump has reversed decades of US policy and recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite warnings from around the world that the gesture will further inflame Middle East tensions.
In a speech at the White House, Mr Trump said his administration would also begin a process of moving the US embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is expected to take years.
Mr Trump called his decision a "long overdue" step to advance the peace process.
"I have determined that it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Mr Trump said.
"While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Mr Trump's announcement as a "historic landmark" and urged other countries also to move their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem.
He said any peace deal with Palestinians must include Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Condemnation was quick to follow Mr Trump's move.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said the decision was tantamount to the US abdicating its peace mediator role.
Hamas was angered by a "flagrant aggression against the Palestinian people", while Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was a violation of international resolutions.
Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said the change in policy was a "dangerous escalation and death sentence for all who seek peace".
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there was no alternative to a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians and that Jerusalem was a final-status issue that should be resolved through direct talks.
"I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardise the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians," Mr Guterres said after Mr Trump's announcement.
"In this moment of great anxiety, I want to make it clear: There is no alternative to the two-state solution. There is no Plan B," he told reporters.
The status of Jerusalem — home to sites holy for the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions — has been one of the thorniest issues in long-running Mideast peace efforts.
Israel considers the city its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there.
Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city's eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move never recognised internationally.
Mr Trump's decision is likely to please his core supporters — Republican conservatives and evangelical Christians who comprise an important share of his political base.
Trump aides contend the move reflects the reality of Jerusalem as the centre of Jewish faith and the fact that the city is the seat of the Israeli Government.