Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
President Donald Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Washington. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of U.S. policy and risk potentially violent protests. - photo by Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Defying dire, worldwide warnings, President Donald Trump on Wednesday broke with decades of U.S. and international policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Despite urgent appeals from Arab and European leaders and the risk of anti-American protests and violence, Trump declared that he was ending an approach that for decades has failed to advance the prospects for peace. He also for the first time personally endorsed the concept of a “two-state solution” for Israel and the Palestinians, provided both sides agree to it.

“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” he said in a White House address, calling it “overdue” and in the best interests of the United States. He said recognition acknowledged the “obvious” that Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government despite the disputed status that is one of the key elements in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“This is nothing more or less than the recognition of reality,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, was supportive of the decision.

“President Trump's announcement brings our diplomatic policy toward Israel into alignment with our posture toward other sovereign nations around the world, which determine their own capitals,” Collins said in a press release. “The president’s decision also affirms that Israel is the United States’ strongest ally, and he is right to act accordingly.”

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., praised the move in a news release.

“It’s long overdue we send a powerful message of support to one of our closest allies, Israel,” Perdue said. “I commend President Trump for taking continued steps to reaffirm the United States’ relationship with Israel after years of questionable policies from the Obama Administration.”

Trump also directed that the State Department begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as required by U.S. law. Officials said, however, that the move will take years to complete.

Trump maintained that his decision would not compromise the city’s geographic and political borders, which will still be determined by Israel and the Palestinians.

Ahead of Trump’s speech, Arab and Muslim leaders spoke about the potential for violence. In Gaza, hundreds of Palestinian protesters burned American and Israeli flags. They also waved Palestinian flags and banners proclaiming Jerusalem as their “eternal capital,” language that Israelis similarly use for their nation.

Even America’s closest allies in Europe questioned the wisdom of Trump’s radical departure from the past U.S. position, which was studiously neutral over the sovereignty of the city.

Jerusalem includes the holiest ground in Judaism. It’s also home to Islam’s third-holiest shrine and major Christian sites, and any perceived harm to Muslim claims to the city has triggered protests in the past, in the Holy Land and beyond.

America’s consulate in Jerusalem has ordered U.S. personnel and their families to avoid visiting Jerusalem’s Old City or the West Bank, and urged American citizens in general to avoid places with increased police or military presence.

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