On Wednesday, Dec. 6, President Trump announced that the United States will be the first nation to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and will move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the historic city.
Citing a lack of progress on peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis (who both claim the city as their own capital), Trump claims it is simply a recognition of reality that Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people. Since Israel’s founding in 1948, no nation has recognized the city as Israel’s capital because of tension with the Palestinians. However, 70 years later, Palestine-Israeli tensions still run high.
Critics of the White House announcement claim that this move will further destabilize the region, promote more violence, and decrease the ability for meaningful peace talks to happen. U.S. Muslim allies in the Middle East denounced the move as they claim Jerusalem belongs to the Palestinians and their faith, as well as the fact that the move will only further aggravate Israeli-Palestinian relations. However, Trump disputes these notions.
“In making these announcements, I want to make one thing clear: this decision is not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement,” Trump said. “We are not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.”
In 1995, the Senate voted 93-5 and the House 374-37 in favor of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. However, past presidents since that resolution has passed have been signing a waiver to delay its effect, that is until Trump. On July 5 2017, the Senate voted 90-0 in favor of continuing to allow waivers.
The Trump administration says there has been behind the scenes progress on peace talks orchestrated in part by his Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner. He is the White House Innovations director, and has been appointed to be in charge of finding a peace between Jerusalem and Israel.