President Trump on Wednesday formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing nearly seven decades of American foreign policy and setting in motion a plan to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to the fiercely contested Holy City.
“It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” said Mr. Trump, speaking from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, saying that past approaches to the conflict, like delaying that recognition, had not moved the peace process forward. “This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement,” he added. Mr. Trump’s remarks will be the most closely scrutinized of his presidency on the Middle East, where he has vowed to broker the “ultimate deal” between Israelis and Palestinians but has yet to find a breakthrough to end the conflict. The president’s recognition of Jerusalem isolates the United States on one of the world’s most sensitive diplomatic issues. It has drawn a storm of criticism from Arab and European leaders, which swelled on Tuesday night after the White House confirmed Mr. Trump’s plans. Pope Francis and the Chinese foreign ministry joined the chorus of voices warning that the move could unleash a wave of violence across the region. At a meeting in Brussels, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson was sternly reproached by European allies.