In a move that could unleash riots and undo decades of American diplomacy, President Trump on Tuesday told Arab and Israeli leaders he will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — and move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv.
A formal announcement of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem is expected from the President on Wednesday. Trump is also expected to sign a waiver that delays transferring the embassy for at least six months.
Some U.S.-allied leaders immediately expressed strong reactions about the move — something Trump had promised to do during his campaign.
In phone calls Tuesday to key figures, Trump laid the groundwork for the move, which could spark unrest in the region.
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But he also reaffirmed his desire to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t issue a public statement on Trump’s call and told his ministers to stay silent as well, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Trump also spoke with King Abdullah of Jordan and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the White House said.
Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman also got phone calls.
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Abbas warned Trump about “the dangerous implications for such a decision on the peace process, the security and stability in the region and the world” and called the possible move “an unacceptable step,” according to a spokesman.
King Abdullah “emphasized that Jerusalem is key to achieving peace and stability in the region and the world,” a palace statement said.
Trump’s likely recognition on Wednesday of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a symbolic move that could set off potentially violent protests.
The U.S. has historically insisted Jerusalem’s status be resolved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
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The city is revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Palestinians have also hoped to make the eastern section of the city a capital for their state.
Trump’s decision — which analysts say has the potential to destabilize the region — comes as his son-in-law Jared Kushner has led an effort to revive Mideast peace talks.
The mere consideration of Trump changing the status quo sparked a renewed U.S. security warning on Tuesday.
America’s consulate in Jerusalem ordered U.S. personnel and their families to avoid visiting Jerusalem’s Old City or the West Bank, and it urged American citizens in general to avoid places with increased police or military presence.
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Palestinian leaders called for three “days of rage” in protest, CNN reported.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said at a press appearance with Secretary of State Tillerson that any action that could undermine peace talks “must absolutely be avoided.”
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