United States president Donald Trump announced Wednesday the United States will henceforth recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel.
In the original United Nations partition plan creating Palestine and Israel from the territory of the formerly British Mandate of Palestine, Jerusalem was to become an international city along the lines of pre-war Danzig and Trieste. Israel never agreed to the UN plan and always claimed Jerusalem.
Israel’s victory in the 1967 war against neighboring Arab countries led to the occupation of East Jerusalem, which had been administered by the Kingdom of Trans-Jordan.
Most states have refused to recognize Israel’s claim to Jerusalem and have maintained embassies in Tel Aviv instead. According to internet sources there are zero foreign embassies in Jerusalem and 86 embassies in Tel Aviv, but a number of countries operate what they call consulates in Jerusalem, including Belgium, the US, Vatican City, the UK, Spain, Sweden, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey, among others. Costa Rica and El Salvador removed their embassies from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in 2006. Costa Rica and El Salvador were the only countries with embassies to Israel after 1982, according to internet sources.
Trump’s announcement calls for the eventual removal of the US embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem with immediate effect, instructing the US State Department to select appropriate architects for building an embassy which would be “a tribute to peace.” White House officials said the move could take from 3 to 4 years.
Critics of the move say it will destroy the perception of US neutrality in peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Proponents point out this perception hasn’t had currency among Arab-speaking states for at least a decade now, most of which don’t recognize the state of Israel in any case. Trump said he remained committed to an enduring peace agreement between Israel and Palestine leading to a two-state solution. He also called for maintenance of the status quo regarding the Dome of the Rock mosque on the Temple Mount.
The Palestinian Authority had planned to make the capital of the Palestinian state East Jerusalem, despite its de facto inclusion in the territory of the state of Israel.
Trump promised during his campaign to make the move. Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton all said they would do the same previously.