U.S. President Donald Trump announced Wednesday his official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, and instructed the State Department to begin the process of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
"I am determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," said Trump, adding he judged "this cause of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians."
"This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement," Trump said, arguing his announcement is just a "recognition of reality," and is "not intended in any way to reflect a departure" from the U.S. commitment to a lasting peace agreement "acceptable to both sides" of Israel and Palestine.
"We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders," he said. "Those questions are up to the parties involved."
Earlier, the Palestinian authorities have reiterated their stance that there will be no sovereign state of Palestine without East Jerusalem as its capital.
Speaking of the relocation of the U.S. embassy, Trump said the State Department will immediately begin to hire architects, engineers and planners, so as to make the new embassy "a magnificent tribute to peace" when it is completed.
During his presidential campaign, Trump pledged to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Dan Mahaffee, vice president and director of policy at the Center for the Study of Congress and the Presidency, told Xinhua that Trump's decision reflects a willingness to "shake up the peace process" and the push to make a deal, "despite the offense to Arab nations and the risk of inciting further violence in the region."
Ilan Goldenberg from the Center for New American Security said, "if you're about to launch a major peace plan, the last thing you want to do is to take this highly sensitive question of Jerusalem and just throw it into the mix."
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.