Trump expected to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capital in speech
GALI TIBBON (AFP/File)
US President Donald Trump is expected to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in a speech on Wednesday, Reuters said on Friday according to reports by senior administration officials.
"The President has always said it is a matter of when, not if. The President is still considering options and we have nothing to announce,” a White House spokesman told Axios, refusing to officially confirm the report.
Speculation has been mounting this week as to whether Trump will announce the controversial move that will exacerbate tensions in an already finely balanced region.
The office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned Friday of the potential destructive effects of any move denying their claim to east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, after media reports that he is preparing to declare Jerusalem as Israel's "undivided" capital.
Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat told Al Jazeera that, "Jerusalem is major issue and playing with it is like playing with fire."
Ehud Barak, former Israeli Prime Minister told i24News that, “it would be a great thing. Jerusalem is our capital, I would like to see all the embassies of all countries, not just the United States, deployed there.”
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump vowed several times to move the US embassy, which like other international missions is currently located in Tel Aviv because of Jerusalem's disputed status. The promise was a break from typical US policy.
In 1995, Congress made it US policy to move the embassy to Jerusalem, symbolically endorsing Israel's claim on the city as its capital, but the law contained a clause that has allowed each president since to issue and renew a six-month waiver on carrying out the move.
Despite his campaign promises, Trump signed the presidential waiver to delay the move, stating that it was in order to "maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians."
The status of Jerusalem is a flashpoint issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel has declared the entire city as its capital.
The intention to move the embassy has been welcomed by Israel, but slammed by the Palestinians and many other countries and international organizations as a move that could sink the peace process.
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Hope there will be no disclaimer from Trump on this.