US President Donald Trump is likely to deliver a speech on Wednesday recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a senior US official said today, a move that could upend decades of American policy and further inflame tensions in the Middle East.
The news is in line with information released by two administration officials yesterday who said that even as Trump was considering a controversial declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he was expected to again delay his campaign promise to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the major stumbling blocks in achieving peace between Israelis and the Palestinians.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 war and later annexed it, a move not recognised internationally.
Palestinian leaders, Arab governments and Western allies have long urged Trump not to proceed with the embassy relocation, which would go against decades of US policy by granting de facto US recognition of Israel’s claim to all of Jerusalem as its capital.
However, if Trump decides to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, even without ordering an embassy move, it would be certain to spark an international uproar.
A key question would be whether such a declaration would be enshrined as a formal presidential action or simply be a symbolic statement by Trump.
Some of Trump’s top aides have privately pushed for him to keep his campaign promise to satisfy a range of supporters, including evangelical Christians, while others have warned of the potential damage to US relations with Muslim countries.