Washington Post: Politics In White House speech, Trump recognizes Jerusalem as capital of Israel in reversal of longtime U.S. policy6 December 2017 | 21:38 | FOCUS News Agency
In a midday speech at the White House, Trump defended his decision as “long overdue” and argued that a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians has remained elusive for more than two decades even as his predecessors declined to recognize the contested city as Israel’s capital.
“Some say they lacked courage, but they made the best judgment based on the facts as they understood them,” Trump said, speaking in the Diplomatic Reception Room. “Nevertheless, the record is in. After more than two decades, we’re no closer to a lasting peace agreement.”
Trump added that “it’s folly to assume that repeating the exactly the same formula will produce a different or better result.”
The announcement came a day after senior White House aides previewed Trump’s decision, and the president also ordered the State Department to begin planning to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a process that administration officials said would take years.
Trump emphasized that despite his decision he remained fully committed to helping broker a peace agreement. The White House is working on a peace plan to be unveiled sometime next year.
“The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides,’ Trump said. “I intend to do everything in my power to forge such an agreement.”
Trump’s decision was hailed in Israel. The Jerusalem municipality announced ahead of Trump’s speech that it would illuminate the ancient walls of Jerusalem Old City with an Israeli and an American flag, “as a token of appreciation to President Trump for his recognition of Jerusalem.” The city said that American flags would be hung on the streets surrounding the U.S. consulate.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said that “the expected announcement by President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a historic declaration that sends a clear message to the entire world that the U.S. stands with the Jewish people, the State of Israel and Jerusalem.”
“As a gesture and expression of the courageous friendship between the American people and the people of Israel, we decided to project the American and Israeli flags onto the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, the ultimate symbol of the strength of the Jewish people’s connection to Jerusalem for over 3,000 years.”
Yet other Mideast nations and some U.S. allies condemned the decision ahead of Trump’s speech, suggesting the shift in policy would inflame regional tensions and make the process of brokering a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians more difficult.
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