President Trump on Wednesday formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, saying it's time to "acknowledge the obvious" as he ordered the State Department to begin moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the president said during a speech in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.
The move fulfills a campaign promise made to religious conservatives. But it could also inflame tensions across the Middle East.
“This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality," Trump said. "It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”
Trump acknowledged the opposition from other countries in the Middle East to his decision, saying Vice President Mike Pence will be “traveling to the region” in the coming days.
“There will of course be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement,” Trump said. “But we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a peace and place far greater in understanding and cooperation.”
During his remarks, Trump emphasized he is still committed to a peace deal between the two sides.
“This decision is not intended in any way to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement," he said.
"We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians.”
The U.S. would be the first country to move its embassy to Jerusalem, which is claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians. Other countries that have diplomatic relations with Israel keep their embassies in Tel Aviv.