WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — The White House confirmed Tuesday night that President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate the U.S. embassy there.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, Palestinians are warning of protests and other consequences.
On Wednesday, Trump will announce plans to move the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv 40 miles to Jerusalem – a decision that carries symbolism and controversy.
Trump foreshadowed the decision in a 2016 campaign speech.
“We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem, and we will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally, the state of Israel,” Trump said in a speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on March 21, 2016.
Administration sources said the move is a recognition of reality. Israel’s parliament, Supreme Court, and prime minister are all based in Jerusalem.
In 1995, the Congress overwhelmingly voted to make the moves – although presidents have repeatedly waived appointments.
But Palestinians lay claim to East Jerusalem, which the United Nations considers to be under illegal military occupation. Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Trump’s decision risks “grave consequences” and possible violence. Other Palestinian officials issued similar warnings.
“When you look at a place that’s on the verge of an explosion, you do not introduce a flame,” said Palestinian Legislator Hanan Ashrawi.
“We, the Palestinians, will never accept the illegal annexation of our land and such an illegal move by the United States,” said Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Member Mustafa Barghouti.
“The U.S. is delivering a lethal bullet to the heart of the two-state solution that would be, actually, the kiss-of-death to the two-state solution,” said Husam Zomlot, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization delegation to the U.S.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also said earlier that if the U.S. makes the move, it would be a red line for Muslims.
But the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, visiting Washington, said the president’s decision is the right one.
“In Jerusalem, we don’t cave to pressure, and we don’t let threats or violence stop us from doing what is right,” said Mayor Nir Barkat.
On Tuesday, the State Department warned Americans in Israel to avoid Jerusalem’s Old City, and possibly dangerous protests.
In New York, a couple who spends half the year in Israel said the president is making the right move.
But Rabbi Robert Golub said it is not a smart move in the absence of a larger peace treaty.
“The Trump administration is simply endangering Israeli Jews and Arabs who live in Jerusalem and making them exposed to the wiles of the extremists,” said Golub, of the Upper East Side.
The reaction is expected to be immediate and perhaps intense. But an administration official said the actual project of moving the embassy to Jerusalem will take years.
Trump on Wednesday will also recommit to the U.S. facilitating a peace deal, saying the deal is within reach and can be achieved.