Washington (AsiaNews) – "I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” said US President Donald Trump. Thus, the American embassy in Israel will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The president justified his decision by noting that in 1995, the US Congress had urged the federal government to move the US diplomatic mission to Jerusalem. For 22 years, this was postponed to "advance the cause of peace ".
Trump said that Jerusalem "is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world" that “has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem”.
The US leader went on to say that the believers of the three monotheistic religions will continue to be free to profess their religion in the holy city.
Lastly, the president called for "calm, for moderation", reiterating that the decision does not refer to the boundaries of the city or those of future states. At the same time, the United States remains committed to working for a lasting peace agreement.
In the days leading up to the announcement, regional leaders and US Western allies had urgent President Trump not to take this step, whose consequences could be serious for the whole region.
Jerusalem has always been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the UN resolution of 1947, which placed the Holy City under international control.
The first Arab-Israeli scuppered United Nations plans by dividing Jerusalem into an eastern part controlled by Jordan and a western part held by Israel.
As a result of its victory in the 1967 war, Israel seized the latter and has claimed the whole city as its "united and indivisible" capital.
However, the international community has not accepted this claim, and has not recognised its jurisdiction over the eastern part of the city.
The Palestinians, for their part, claim the eastern part as the capital of a future independent Palestinian state.
Over the decades, Jerusalem, in particular the Esplanade of the mosques (or Temple Mount for the Jewish religion), has often been the scene of violent clashes.
The eastern part of the Holy City has also been subjected to Jewish settlement, seizures and demolitions of Palestinian property.