Trump likely to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital next week, says senior official, in move that would upend decades of foreign policy and could inflame tensions in the Middle East
- Trump may order US embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Wednesday
- That would give Israel's claim to the entire city de facto US recognition
- Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital; Palestinians also claim it as theirs?
- At present the world does not officially recognize Israel's claim to East Jerusalem
- It took that section of the city after a war with a group of Arab states in 1965?
- US presidents have kept the embassy in Tel Aviv to avoid recognizing the claim
- Recognition will infuriate the Arabs, and undo attempts to broker peace
- But the final decision has not yet been made, officials have claimed?
Donald Trump is likely to announce next week that the United States recognizes Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv, as Israel's capital, a senior official has said - potentially causing chaos in the Middle East.
Trump may make the declaration on Wednesday, the senior member of the administration told Reuters.
If he does, it will deal a serious blow to the Middle East peace protest.
Donald Trump (seen with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu) ?is likely to say next week that the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a senior administration official said on Friday
Israel claims East Jerusalem as its territory; until now the US and other countries have not recognized this, as it would inflame Arab anger and upset the peace process. Pictured: the city
Jerusalem - which contains sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths - is claimed as the capital of both the state of Israel and a proposed Palestinian state.
The international community doesn't recognize the Palestinian claim and does not recognize Israel's claim to section sections of the city that it annexed from Palestine following the 1967 Middle East War.
But in 1995, a law was passed declaring that the US embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Every president since then has signed a waver every six months to put off that transfer, in the hope of not further widening the rifts that exist in the region.
Instead, they have said, Jerusalem's status must be decided only in negotiations.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (pictured) said America's recognition of Jerusalem would 'destroy the peace process' and 'destabilize the region'
Trump pledged on the presidential campaign trail last year that he would move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
But in June he waived the requirement, saying he wanted to 'maximize the chances' for a new US-led push for what he has called the 'ultimate deal' of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Those efforts have made little, if any, progress so far and many experts are skeptical of the prospects for success.
Now, the possibility that Trump may take this chance to bestow US recognition on Israel's claim has upset many Arab leaders in the surrounding region.
It could also unravel the US administration's fledgling diplomatic effort, led by Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, to restart long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and enlist the support of the US's Arab allies.
Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said America's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital would 'destroy the peace process' and 'destabilize the region.'
And while visiting Washington this week, Jordan's King Abdullah warned lawmakers that moving the embassy could be 'exploited by terrorists to stoke anger, frustration and desperation,' according to the Jordanian state news agency Petra.
Such a move, however, could help satisfy the pro-Israel, right-wing base - particularly evangelical Christians - that helped Trump win the presidency. It would also please the Israeli government, a close US ally.
And some of Trump's top aides have privately pushed for him to keep his campaign promise for that reason.
The senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said details were still being finalized and could still change.
Another American official also said Trump appeared to be heading toward recognizing Israel's claim to Jerusalem but that it was not a done deal.
Jordan's King Abdullah (pictured with Queen Rania) said recognizing Jerusalem as the capital could be used by terrorists to stoke anger. The decision has not yet been made by Trump
'We've nothing to announce,' said a spokesperson with the White House National Security Council.
Trump is reportedly weighing in personally in the intense internal deliberations, a White House aide said.?
Despite the short-term gains to be had for him, he may still stick with the established program and sign a waiver keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv for another six months.
But seeking to temper his supporters' concerns, another option under consideration is for him to order his aides to develop a longer-term plan for the embassy's relocation, to make clear his intent to do so eventually, the officials said.
It was unclear, however, whether any public recognition by Trump of Israel's claim on Jerusalem would be formally enshrined in a presidential action or be more of a symbolic statement.
WHY IS JERUSALEM CONTESTED?
Jerusalem is an important site for the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths, each of which share a common origin.
Prior to World War II Palestine was controlled by Britain, but there was some friction within Jerusalem, which had a majority Jewish population.
In 1947, the UN General Assembly introduced the?United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, which divided the country into separate Jewish and Arab areas.
In this plan, Palestine - in recognition of its religious importance - was to be a third, separate state, under international control.
The British Mandate for Palestine expired on May 15, 1948; one day earlier, the head of the Jewish Agency there declared the formation of the State of Israel.
Israeli soldiers after capturing East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967. Israel later annexed the area and declared it part of its capital - something the international community refuses to recognize
Following that, a coalition of Arab states invaded what had been British Palestine, beginning a year-long war.
That war ended with Jordan left in charge of the Eastern parts of Jerusalem, along with the West Bank; Egypt took the Gaza Strip. Only Britain and Pakistan recognized Jordanian rule over that section of the city.
In 1956 Israel invaded the Egyptian Sinai, trying to reclaim a route to the Straits of Tiran; it was beaten back.
Tensions continued to grow between the two countries until 1967, when Israel, in response to Egyptian militarization along its borders, launched what it said were preemptive strikes on Egyptian airbases.?
Egypt persuaded Jordan to aid it, as well as Syria, in the resulting Six Day War in which Israel seized East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Israel later declared Israeli law in East Jerusalem, a move that was not recognized internationally.
A 1980 movement by Israel to declare Jerusalem 'complete and united,' and 'capital of Israel' was struck down by the UN.
Should Trump choose to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem, it would reverse long-standing US policy by granting de facto US recognition of Israel's claim to all of Jerusalem as its capital.
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