|Angry Palestinians burning US flag in Gaza Strip.|
President Trump announced he's recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital city, and starting the process of moving the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. 'Today we finally acknowledge the obvious, that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality,' he said.
Palestinians said it would be 'a kiss of death to the two-state solution' and Trump is 'declaring war in the Middle East'. The terror group Hamas said Trump has opened 'the gates of hell'. Pope Francis said he was 'profoundly concerned' and appealed that 'everyone respects the status quo of the city'.
China, which has good ties with Israel and the Palestinians, expressed concerns over 'possible aggravation of regional tensions'. Iran's supreme leader said Trump's new stance represented 'incompetence and failure'; Russia expressed concern about a 'possible deterioration' there.
Moving the embassy to Jerusalem will unfold over 'years,' a senior White House official said; 'It won't be immediate, it won't be months, it won't be quick'. White House offered no expansion on Trump's argument that peace process is unaffected and how it ties in to Jared Kushner's peace plan
President Donald Trump set off protests throughout the Middle East on Wednesday as he announced that America formally recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital city. He changed decades of U.S. policy in a brief afternoon speech and cast the move as a bid to preserve, not derail, aspirations for regional peace.
Appearing in the White House's Diplomatic Reception Room against an elaborate backdrop of Christmas decorations, he also said the United States embassy in Israel would, over time, be moved there from Tel Aviv.
Israel is the only country where the United States has an embassy in a city that the host nation does not consider its capital. (Blogger’s notes: As a political protest US dose not move her Embassy to new capital “Nay Pyi Daw” in Burma.)
|Trump declaring Jerusalem as Israel's capital.|
World leaders including the Pope spoke out against the measure, saying that it jeopardized the peace process. But Trump was unrepentant that he was doing the 'right thing'. 'I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,' Trump said. 'While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today I am delivering.'
'When I came into office I promised to look at the world's challenges with open eyes and very fresh thinking,' he said, leaning heavily on a mid-1990s federal law that demanded the embassy's relocation.
'We have declined to acknowledge any Israeli capital – at all,' Trump added. 'But today we finally acknowledge the obvious, that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality.' 'It is also the right thing to do. It is something that has to be done.'
Condemnations From Muslims, Their Leftie & Liberal Allies
'I'm intending to speak to President Trump about this matter. Our position has not changed, it has been a long standing one and it is also a very clear one. It is that the status of Jerusalem should be determined in a negotiated settlement.' British Prime Minister Theresa May.
'These deplorable and unacceptable measures deliberately undermine all peace efforts.' Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas. 'This decision will open the gates of hell on US interests in the region.' Hamas official Ismail Radwan. The move will have 'dangerous repercussions on the stability and security of the region and efforts to attain peace'. King Abdullah of Jordan. 'This decision is a regrettable decision that France does not approve of and goes against international law and all the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council.' French President Emmanuel Macron.
'I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians.' U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. 'We call upon the U.S. Administration to reconsider this faulty decision which may result in highly negative outcomes and to avoid uncalculated steps that will harm the multicultural identity and historical status of Jerusalem.' Turkey's Foreign Ministry. 'Death sentence for all who seek peace.' Qatar's foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.
'I pray to the Lord that its identity is preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world and that wisdom and prudence prevail to prevent new elements of tension from being added to a global context already convulsed by so many cruel conflicts.' Pope Francis.
|Pro-Muslim Pope is unhappy.|
Every president since Bill Clinton has exercised a waiver in the Jerusalem Embassy Act, effectively kicking the can down the road. Trump said that has brought the world 'no closer to a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.'
A major theme in Trump's unprecedented statement was his claim that it shouldn't interfere with longer-term peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. What the speech did not spell out was how that could be the case - and there was no briefing from the White House afterwards to expand on Trump's case.
His son-in-law Jared Kushner is currently drawing up a Middle East peace plan, but when it will appear and how Wednesday's dramatic announcement will play a part in it is unknown. Notably Kushner, 36, a former property developer, was not present for Trump's speech and proclamation signing.
But the Palestine Liberation Organization said after his speech that it had destroyed hopes for a two-state solution. The terror group Hamas said Trump had opened 'the gates of hell.' Sami Abu Zuhri, the leader of Hamas, said that Trump's decision 'will not succeed in changing the reality of Jerusalem being Islamic Arab land.' 'This decision is foolish and time will tell that the biggest losers are Trump and Netanyahu.'
But Trump insisted that 'this decision is not intended in any way to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement. 'We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians.'
'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,' he continued. 'Those questions are up to the parties involved. The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement.'
Trump said the United States will continue to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian standoff, if agreed to by both sides. 'In the meantime, I call on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem's holy sites,' he said.
But Israel’s Prime Minister Is Happy
'This is a historic day. Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for nearly 70 years. Jerusalem has been the focus of our hopes, our dreams, our prayers for three millennia. Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years.' Benjamin Netanyahu.
|Israeli soldiers captured East Jerusalem |
from Jordan in 1967 War.
Trump insisted that ordering a move of the embassy's location would 'immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers and planners so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.'
America's friends and foes unleashed fierce criticism before Trump made official what the White House previewed for reporters Tuesday night. But Trump stuck to his guns, calling his decision an act of political courage.
The president previewed his 'big announcement' during a cabinet meeting, which he said concerns 'Israel and the Palestinians in the Middle East. And I think it's long overdue. Many presidents have said they want to do something, and they didn't do it. Whether it's through courage or they change their mind I can't tell you. But a lot of people have said we have to do something, and they didn't do it.'
Christian Right: It’s What the Gospel Says
President Trump's controversial decision to announce the move of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has drawn criticism from Islamic groups, U.S. Jewish groups, and even the Pope as a potential obstacle to peace. Pope Francis advised against 'adding new elements of tension in a world already shaken and scarred by many cruel conflicts,' cautioning against the move in unusually stark terms.
But the move is a priority for a group of Christian evangelicals who are strongly pro-Israel and are an important part of Trump's electoral coalition. They see Mike Pence, the vice-president, as a leader and instrumental in Wednesday's announcement.
Among those cheering the president's announcement was Rev. Robert Jeffress, the pastor at a Texas megachurch who preached during Trump's inauguration. Jeffress tweeted on Wednesday: 'President @realDonaldTrump has demonstrated true leadership today by recognizing Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of Israel.'
In his statement, he mentioned his belief that Jerusalem will be the place where Jesus Christ will return for the 'second coming' and 'judgement day.'
'Jerusalem is and should be recognized as the capital of Israel. It is David's capital, the site of the First and Second Temples, the focus of the historians' accounts, the Psalmists' songs and the prophets' visions,' wrote Jeffress. 'It is the place where Jesus, a Jew himself, was crucified, and where he was resurrected. It is the place where he will set foot again on earth at his second coming.'
|Trump signed, Pence smiled.|
Hagee issued a video statement Wednesday lavishing praise on Trump for the move. 'President Trump told me when last we spoke regarding the embassy that he would not disappoint us, speaking of the evangelical community, and today he has kept that promise,' Hagee said, speaking in front of American and Israeli flags. 'President Trump has made a bold and courageous stand that will be remembered in history forever.' He gushed: 'President Trump has stepped into political immortality.'
Trump, in his statement announcing his decision, cast it as a matter of political courage and acknowledging reality. Israel makes Jerusalem its capital, though other nations keep their embassies in Tel Aviv.
'This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It's something that has to be done,' Trump said. 'Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque,' the president said.