United States President Donald Trump today (7 December) recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital and ordered to start the process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city which many Arab leaders warned could trigger an upheaval in the already volatile Middle East.
The controversial decision, which was promised by Trump during his 2016 campaign and appeals to his right-wing base, could lead to massive protests in the Middle East and elsewhere, Arab leaders have warned.
In taking this action, Trump fulfils a major campaign promise.
The international community considers east Jerusalem illegally occupied by Israel and most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv.
The State Department will immediately begin the process to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.
The Department of State will immediately begin the process to implement this decision by starting the preparations to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.A release by the Department of State
Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital aligns the US presence with the reality that Jerusalem is home to Israel's legislature, Supreme Court, President and Prime Minister's office, Tillerson said.
"We have consulted with many friends, partners, and allies in advance of the President making his decision. We firmly believe there is an opportunity for a lasting peace," he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Trump's actions as "historic" and a "courageous and just decision".
Netanyahu also pledged no change to the status quo at Jerusalem's highly sensitive holy sites in the city sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims.
This is a historic day. Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for nearly 70 years. Jerusalem has been the focus of our hopes, our dreams, our prayers for three millennia. Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years. Thank you, @realDonaldTrump! 🇮🇱🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/mWCUpUMpiC— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) December 6, 2017
The decision received mixed reactions has however received mixed reactions.
While Republicans generally remained supportive of Trump’s actions, the Democrats did not seem happy.
Senator John McCain said, "I have long believed that Jerusalem is the true capital of Israel. However, issues surrounding the final and permanent status of Jerusalem must ultimately be resolved by Israelis and Palestinians as part of an internationally supported peace process".
"That is why today's policy announcement, as well as any future relocation of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, should be part of a comprehensive diplomatic strategy in coordination with regional partners to achieve peace and security between Israelis and Palestinians," he said.
Senator Marco Rubio backed MacCain and said, "Today's announcement is an important step in the right direction. Unequivocal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital will be complete when the US embassy is officially relocated there".
However, the Democrats were seen parroting the Arab reasoning.
Senator Tim Kane said, "I am worried about the impact of this decision on the safety of US personnel overseas and have raised my concerns with the State Department to ensure sufficient security measures are in place at all US embassies and consulates".
The decision has not gone down well with the United Kingdom either. Prime Minister Theresa May termed the Trump’s decision “unhelpful” towards peace efforts.
We disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. We believe it is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region. Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states. We regard East Jerusalem as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.British Prime Minister Theresa May
May reaffirmed that the UK embassy will remain in Tel Aviv.
However, it remains to be seen if Israel’s new best friend India will do what the United States has done.
With inputs from AFP and PTI