It's official:
Trump to recognize Jerusalem, order embassy move

Officials in Washington confirm that Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and will order the embassy to be moved there.

Nitsan Keidar ,

Trump at the Western Wall in Jerusalem
Trump at the Western Wall in Jerusalem
The White House

Senior U.S. administration officials said in a briefing with reporters on Tuesday night that President Donald Trump will announced in a speech on Wednesday that he has decided not only to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in honor of Israel’s 70th Independence Day, but has also ordered to start the process of moving the American embassy to Jerusalem.

"The president will say that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – it is recognition of the historical reality that Jerusalem has been the center of Jewish faith for thousands of years, and the reality today in which the government ministries, the Supreme Court and the central authorities are all located in the capital of Israel – Jerusalem," the officials said.

"The second statement [in the speech] will be that the president ordered the State Department to begin the process of moving the embassy from its present location in Tel Aviv to a new location in Jerusalem," they continued.

It is important to stress, however, that Trump intends to sign the waiver that postpones the embassy move for another six months. "The president will continue to sign the waiver every six months, until the final stages of the moving process," noted the senior administration officials.

They stressed that this will be a long process. "It does not mean that it will happen tomorrow. It's a long-term move to find a new place, prepare it and build the right structure. It's a long process. The president will not specify times - but in order to clarify expectations - it's a matter of years, not months.”

The officials further noted that it was too early to talk about a location for the embassy in Jerusalem, adding that while Trump will not specify a timeframe in his speech, the embassy move is seen as a process that could last from three to four years.

"The president is fulfilling a major promise in his election campaign, and he is also carrying out a series of decisions adopted by Congress back in 1995. Trump understands that this is a very sensitive issue, but he says it has become impossible to ignore the reality on the ground," the officials added.

They stressed that the move does not contradict the American administration's desire to seek peace in the Middle East. "President Trump remains committed to bringing about peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He believes that peace is achievable and he is very optimistic about this issue. He will agree to a two-state solution if both sides are interested in that and give their consent to it."

It was further emphasized in the briefing that "part of the recognition of Jerusalem as far as Trump is concerned is the preservation of the status quo between the religions on the Temple Mount."

The officials explained that the decision was made after a long process of consultation with all the relevant professionals.

The officials were asked whether the declaration would change anything in U.S. policy regarding what is referred to as "the occupied territories" and replied that "the declaration will not change political matters on which our opinion is known."

The senior officials were also asked if they expected an extraordinary Palestinian move following the president's decision and replied, "The Palestinian Authority must make its decisions in the wake of our move. We told them that the president recognizes reality. He is not making a decision that will change the core issues that are to be discussed in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. We must be fair about the reality that Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for seven decades now and this cannot be denied. This recognition of reality should not affect the peace process."