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President Trump signed an order officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital in a news conference in the White House on Wednesday afternoon, as the State Department braced for the backlash by issuing a travel advisory for Americans and banning government officials and their families from traveling in Israel.
Saying that decades of diplomacy have left the parties “no closer to to a lasting peace agreement,” Trump argued that his move, which is to eventually include moving the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, will jumpstart the possibility of a negotiated peace. He called acknowledging Jerusalem as the Israeli capital “a necessary condition for achieving peace.”
“I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” he said. “This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process. And to work towards a lasting agreement.”
The day before Trump’s White House announcement, the US State Department readied for the furor over the controversial decision by issuing a warning to Americans in the country.
“With widespread calls for demonstrations beginning Dec. 6 in Jerusalem and the West Bank, US government employees and their family members are not permitted until further notice to conduct personal travel in Jerusalem’s Old City and in the West Bank, to include Bethlehem and Jericho,” read the statement, which was issued by the US consulate in Jerusalem. “United States citizens should avoid areas where crowds have gathered and where there is increased police and/or military presence.”
It’s expected that moving the embassy to Jerusalem will take three or four years, and White House aides said Trump would sign a six-month waiver keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv for now. That six-month waiver has been signed regularly by every president for two decades.
Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital was one of Trump’s notable campaign promises during the presidential election.
After his declaration, Trump urged people of all faiths and both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to work together toward a negotiated settlement.
“We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians,” Trump said. “We are not taking a position of any final status issues including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders.”
Despite his call for a peaceful solution to the issue, Trump’s order means he’s ignoring the pleas of several world leaders and Pope Francis to reconsider. They argue that the move will deepen tensions and lead to violence in what’s already a powder keg of diplomatic and military entanglements.
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