WASHINGTON (K-LOVE News) — Defying worldwide warnings, President Donald Trump on Wednesday broke with decades of U.S. and international policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Despite urgent appeals from Arab and European leaders and the risk of anti-American protests and violence, Trump declared that he was ending an approach that for decades has failed to advance the prospects for peace. He also for the first time personally endorsed the concept of a "two-state solution" for Israel and the Palestinians, provided both sides agree to it.
"I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," he said in a White House address, calling it "overdue" and in the best interests of the United States. He said recognition acknowledged the "obvious" that Jerusalem is the seat of Israel's government despite the disputed status that is one of the key elements in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"This is nothing more or less than the recognition of reality," he said.
POW News editor's note: In 1995, Congress approved the Jerusalem Embassy Act, directing the American embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But, until now, no president implemented had that law.
Trump also directed that the State Department begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as required by U.S. law. Officials said, however, that the move will take years to complete.
Trump maintained that his decision would not compromise the city's geographic and political borders, which will still be determined by Israel and the Palestinians.
Ahead of Trump's speech, Arab and Muslim leaders spoke about the potential for violence. In Gaza, hundreds of Palestinian protesters burned American and Israeli flags. They also waved Palestinian flags and banners proclaiming Jerusalem as their "eternal capital," language that Israelis similarly use for their nation.
Jerusalem includes the holiest ground in Judaism. It's also home to Islam's third-holiest shrine and major Christian sites, and any perceived harm to Muslim claims to the city has triggered protests in the past, in the Holy Land and beyond.
America's consulate in Jerusalem has ordered U.S. personnel and their families to avoid visiting Jerusalem's Old City or the West Bank, and urged American citizens in general to avoid places with increased police or military presence.
Reaction from some Christian organizations:
From Liberty Counsel:
President Donald Trump affirmed that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and promised to begin the process of relocating the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. "President Trump's affirmation that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel represents a significant and long overdue shift in U.S. policy," said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, President of Christians in Defense of Israel, and Founder and Chairman of Covenant Journey.
In every country worldwide, the U.S. respects the choice of the nation state and locates its embassy in the capital. However, the embassy in Israel is in Tel Aviv, despite the fact that Israel designates Jerusalem as its capital and despite the fact that Congress voted to move the embassy to Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 passed the Senate by 93-5 and the House by 374-37 to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem by requiring the withholding of State Department funds if was not moved. However, the law was never implemented because of opposition from former Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama.
From the Family Research Council:
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement praising President Trump's plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and begin the process to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem:
"Today is a major milestone in America's historic relationship with Israel. Under the bold and courageous leadership of President Trump, America is finally putting American interests and the interests of our key allies first.
"America's foreign policy, as it pertains to Israel, is coming into alignment with this biblical truth: Jerusalem is the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state," concluded Perkins.
From the ACLJ:
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) said President Trump’s decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the announcement to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a “bold and welcomed move – a move that recognizes the facts as they are.”
“This is a bold and welcomed move by President Trump - a move that recognizes the facts as they are - that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state of Israel,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ, which has an office in Israel. “By officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States sends a powerful message to the world – the U.S. remains committed to pursuing and achieving peace in the Middle East. Further, the decision to move our embassy to Jerusalem not only reflects the correct course of action, but also complies with both U.S. and international law.”
(The Assocciated Press contributed to this story)