Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's Capital

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A view of Jerusalem's Old City.
A view of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's Capital

On December 6, 2017, President Donald J. Trump recognized Jerusalem, the ancient capital of the Jewish people, as the capital of the State of Israel.

Recognizing Jerusalem

In a statement on this decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, the President said, “My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.”

The President said, “I've judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long-overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement.” 

In a statement released following the President’s announcement, Secretary Tillerson said, “President Trump‘s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital aligns U.S. presence with the reality that Jerusalem is home to Israel’s legislature, Supreme Court, President’s office, and Prime Minister‘s office. 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.”

Strong Bipartisan Support and Relocating the U.S. Embassy

In his statement, President Trump noted that this action enjoys broad, bipartisan support in Congress, including as expressed in the Jerusalem Recognition Act of 1995. “In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act, urging the federal government to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that that city -- and so importantly -- is Israel’s capital.” This Act was reaffirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago.

President Trump instructed the State Department to develop a plan to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In his statement, he said, “Consistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers, and planners, so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.”

Secretary Tillerson in a statement addressed preparations to move the American embassy. The Secretary said, “The State Department will immediately begin the process to implement this decision by starting the preparations to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The safety of Americans is the State Department’s highest priority, and in concert with other federal agencies, we’ve implemented robust security plans to protect the safety of Americans in affected regions.” 

Status of Jerusalem

Recognizing that the issue of specific boundaries and sovereignty in Jerusalem is highly sensitive and subject to final status negotiations, the President said, “In making these announcements, I also want to make one point very clear: This decision is not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement. We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians. We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.”

Committed to the Peace Process

President Trump reaffirmed the United States commitment to achieving a lasting peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. In his statement, the President stated, “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. Without question, Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in those talks. The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides.”

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.com.

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