US President Donald Trump has officially declared the disputed city of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital, despite warnings from around the world that the measure risks triggering a fresh wave of violence in the Middle East.
In a speech at the White House on Wednesday, Trump said his administration would also begin a process of moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to the holy city, which is expected to take years.
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said. “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.”
The US leader also said that Vice President Mike Pence will travel to the Middle East in the coming days “to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism.”
The announcement was a major shift by Washington that overturns decades of US foreign policy.
Trump’s decision was mostly aimed at pleasing his main supporters – Republican conservatives and evangelical Christian Zionists who comprise an important share of his voter base.
Trump’s predecessors, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, had consistently deferred that decision to avoid inflaming tensions in the region.