Spotlight: Trump to announce decision on moving embassy to Jerusalem, sparking wide criticism, worries

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23, 2017. In the final remarks that concluded his first visit to the region, U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is "possible".

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 -- The White House said Tuesday that U.S. President Donald Trump will decide Wednesday on whether to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The move, if materialized, would mean a recognition of the city as Israel's capital and is likely to fuel conflicts between Israel and Palestine and arouse global concerns.

The White House also said Trump had talked separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordanian King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, and Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

In phone talks with the leaders, Trump discussed potential decisions regarding Jerusalem, reaffirmed his commitment to and support for advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and underscored cooperation with each partner to advance the peace efforts throughout the region, said the White House.


Trump's intention to move U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which many analysts said would explicitly mean the U.S. formal recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, has provoked a backlash from the Arab world.

Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rdineh said in an official statement that Abbas warned of the dangerous consequences of Trump's decision on the peace process, security and stability in the Middle East region and the world.

He added that Abbas will continue his contact with world leaders to prevent such an unacceptable action.

The Jordanian king stressed in the call with Trump the dangers of taking any measures that are not part of a comprehensive solution, saying Trump's decision will have serious consequences on the stability and security of the Middle East, undermine efforts by the U.S. administration to resume the peace process and provoke the feelings of Muslims and Christians alike.

On Sunday, Saeed Abu-Ali, Arab League assistant secretary general for the occupied Palestinian and Arab lands, said that such U.S. recognition would give Israel the green light to continue its breaches of international resolutions, urging Washington to act as an "impartial broker" of the peace process.


European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday warned that the status of Jerusalem should be resolved through negotiations.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Mogherini reiterated that EU supports "the resumption of a meaningful peace process towards a two-state," warning that "any action that would undermine these efforts must absolutely be avoided."

"A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states so that the aspiration of both parties can be fulfilled," said Mogherini.

Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned Abbas, saying Moscow backs a resumption of talks between Israel and Palestinian authorities, including on the status of Jerusalem.


Daniel Serwer, director of conflict management at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, told Xinhua that Trump's main motive seems to "be satisfying a domestic political constituency that wants the administration to be as pro-Israel as possible."

"It is likely the president also thinks that disruptive moves of this sort will reshuffle the deck and somehow make the Israel/Palestine problem easier to solve. That isn't likely to be the case however," he noted.

"Any announcement changing existing U.S. policy without being even-handed will reduce the likelihood of an agreed peace," he said.

"The U.S. has always been pro-Israel, but until now it has not necessarily been perceived as anti-Palestine. This will make it hard for many, including me, to believe that the administration supports a two-state solution, which many of us regard as the only outcome that will lead to stability," he added.

During his presidential campaign, Trump pledged to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Although the U.S. Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 which required the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, former U.S. presidents, including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, consistently renewed a presidential waiver to delay the relocation out of consideration for national security interests.

The status of Jerusalem remains one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So far, the international community does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and no foreign countries base their embassies in the city.