Issue Brief on “Trump’s Jerusalem Decision: A Reckless Move”

“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,”[1] In a statement from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on December 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced plans to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested city at the West Bank.

All 86 countries that have embassies in Israel locate them within Tel Aviv. A smaller number, including the United States, control consulates in Jerusalem. These Jerusalem consulates are generally diplomatic missions to the Palestinian Authority and the city itself. On December 6, 2017, President Trump’s decision upended seven decades of US foreign policy in the Middle East.

Israel describes Jerusalem as its undivided and everlasting capital. The city has a complex history, with the Jews who occupied it during biblical times later largely barred and the city was later under Muslim rule during the Ottoman Empire. During the 20th century, the city changed hands a number of times before Israel captured the eastern part of the city from Jordan following the war in 1967.

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