US President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital according to senior administration officials.
In recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the US has become the first country to do so since the foundation of the state in 1948.
The region is braced for unrest in anticipation of the declaration, due to be announced at 1pm in Washington, while US embassies around the world have been advised by the state department to bolster security.
US government employees have been told not to travel Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank until further notice.
— Palestine Info Center (@palinfoen) December 6, 2017
The BBC reports:
Mr Trump is also expected to approve moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but not for several years.
Israel welcomes the changes but the Palestinians and Arab leaders have warned they will jeopardise any Middle East peace process.
The Palestinians’ UK representative, Manuel Hassassian, told the BBC the changes would be the “kiss of death” to the two-state peace solution and amounted to declaring war in the Middle East.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to comment officially but Education Minister Naftali Bennett called on other countries to follow Washington’s lead.
“Jerusalem has been and always will be the eternal capital,” he told the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference.
Pope Francis called for the “status quo” to be respected. Dialogue would only come through “recognising the rights of all people” in the region, he said.
And UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, said he viewed the reports of what Mr Trump would say “with concern”.
Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital city, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
In recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the US becomes the first country to do so since the foundation of the state in 1948.
What is so contentious about Jerusalem’s status?
The issue goes to the heart of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, who are backed by the Arab and wider Islamic world.
The city is home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem.
Israel annexed the sector from Jordan after the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital.
According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of talks.
Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognised internationally and all countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.