The National -- US president Donald Trump broke with his predecessors on Wednesday, declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and directing the state department to start the process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv, while dispatching vice-president Mike Pence to the Middle East.
In an announcement from the diplomatic room in the White House, Mr Trump announced: “I have determined to officially recognise Jerusalem as capital of Israel.” He justified his decision by citing the US's Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which urged the federal government to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem and to recognise that city as Israel’s capital. The act was reaffirmed by a unanimous vote of the senate only six months ago. Previous US presidents, however, have signed waivers every six months deferring a move of the embassy.
“Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world," Mr Trump said on Wednesday. "Over the past seven decades, the Israeli people have built a country where Jews, Muslims, Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and beliefs."
“The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement."
But Palestinian officials said the move would be hugely damaging to the chances of peace and likely spark violence both locally and regionally.
On 5th December Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas at the latter’s initiative. During the discussion of the Middle East settlement process, Vladimir Putin stated Russia’s principled stand in support of the immediate resumption of direct Palestinian-Israeli talks on all disputed issues, including the status of Jerusalem, with a view to making long-term and fair decisions in the interests of both countries.
The importance of the agreement between Fatah and Hamas to bolster Palestinian unity, signed in Cairo in October 2017, was noted.
The British PM Theresa May has said she intends to speak to Donald Trump about his expected recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
The Prime Minister said the ancient city should ultimately be shared between Israel and a future Palestinian state, amid growing unease over the American president's proposal to move the US embassy in Israel. She said there should be a sovereign and viable Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution.
Hamas says Trump's “flagrant aggression” has opened “the gates of hell” as the group calls for a “day of rage” over US President's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.