Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House, Feb. 15, 2017. (Andrew Harrer/Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Donald Trump signed a proclamation recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but emphasized that he was not pre-empting negotiations over the final status of the city.

“It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said in a televised address from the White House, with Vice President Mike Pence standing behind him.

“While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. I today am delivering.”

Trump in the proclamation also directed the State Department to start planning an embassy in Jerusalem. The U.S. Embassy is currently in Tel Aviv.

The president said the decision should not impinge on efforts led by his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, to bring about a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Trump said the proclamation does not presume the outcome of Jerusalem’s status in negotiations.

“We are not taking a position on any final status issues, including the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who welcomed the announcement, has said repeatedly that Jerusalem will remain undivided as Israel’s capital. Palestinian officials hope to establish the capital of a Palestinian state in the city’s eastern sector.

Trump also made a point of urging the preservation of the status quo on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. The controlling authority on the Temple Mount now is the Muslim Waqf, and Jews are forbidden to pray on the site.