President Donald Trump this afternoon formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital. His prepared statement before signing the declaration is below:
Thank you. When I came into office, I promised to look at the world’s challenges with open eyes and very fresh thinking. We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past. Old challenges demand new approaches.
My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act, urging the federal government to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that that city — and so importantly — is Israel’s capital. This act passed Congress by an overwhelming bipartisan majority and was reaffirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago.
Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.
Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace. Some say they lacked courage, but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time. Nevertheless, the record is in. After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.
Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.
I’ve judged this course 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.
Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.
It was 70 years ago that the United States, under President Truman, recognized the State of Israel. Ever since then, Israel has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem — the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times. Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the Prime Minister and the President. It is the headquarters of many government ministries.
For decades, visiting American presidents, secretaries of state, and military leaders have met their Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem, as I did on my trip to Israel earlier this year.
Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world. Over the past seven decades, the Israeli people have built a country where Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and according to their beliefs.
Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
However, through all of these years, presidents representing the United States have declined to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In fact, we have declined to acknowledge any Israeli capital at all.
But today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.
That is why, consistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers, and planners, so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.
In making these announcements, I also want to make one point very clear: This decision is not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement. We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians. 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. Those questions are up to the parties involved.
The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement. Without question, Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in those talks. The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides.
In the meantime, I call on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites, including the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif.
Above all, our greatest hope is for peace, the universal yearning in every human soul. With today’s action, I reaffirm my administration’s longstanding commitment to a future of peace and security for the region.
There will, of course, be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement. But we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a peace and a place far greater in understanding and cooperation.
This sacred city should call forth the best in humanity, lifting our sights to what it is possible; not pulling us back and down to the old fights that have become so totally predictable. Peace is never beyond the grasp of those willing to reach.
So today, we call for calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate. Our children should inherit our love, not our conflicts.
I repeat the message I delivered at the historic and extraordinary summit in Saudi Arabia earlier this year: The Middle East is a region rich with culture, spirit, and history. Its people are brilliant, proud, and diverse, vibrant and strong. But the incredible future awaiting this region is held at bay by bloodshed, ignorance, and terror.
Vice President Pence will travel to the region in the coming days to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism that threatens the hopes and dreams of future generations.
It is time for the many who desire peace to expel the extremists from their midst. It is time for all civilized nations, and people, to respond to disagreement with reasoned debate –- not violence.
And it is time for young and moderate voices all across the Middle East to claim for themselves a bright and beautiful future.
So today, let us rededicate ourselves to a path of mutual understanding and respect. Let us rethink old assumptions and open our hearts and minds to possible and possibilities. And finally, I ask the leaders of the region — political and religious; Israeli and Palestinian; Jewish and Christian and Muslim — to join us in the noble quest for lasting peace.
Thank you. God bless you. God bless Israel. God bless the Palestinians. And God bless the United States. Thank you very much. Thank you.
The United States joins Costa Rica and El Salvador in formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital. The U.S. would be the first nation to establish an embassy there, however.
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) applauded the move.
“I am pleased President Trump is following through on a promise made by many U.S. presidents in the past. Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is an important step forward for Israel, our strongest ally in the Middle East. It is essential that the United States continues to stand with our friends and trusted allies around the globe,” she said in a released statement.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on Twitter lauded the decision.
Jerusalem Embassy Act of ‘95 (Senate vote 93-5 & I voted for it) states embassy should be in Jerusalem by 5/31/99. For 18 yrs, Rep + Dem presidents waived. Congrats Pres Trump for making this move. Amen!!!— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) December 6, 2017
At the time of this writing, no other member of Iowa’s Congressional delegation has released a statement. Caffeinated Thoughts is reaching out for their comment.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the move.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: @POTUS Trump, thank you for today's historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The Jewish people and the Jewish state will be forever grateful. pic.twitter.com/Z24lSRezYm— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) December 6, 2017
Below is a round-up of Congressional response on Twitter that has been mostly positive:
It is the diplomatic right of any sovereign nation to choose where their nation’s capital is located; and, for 67 years, Israel has recognized Jerusalem as their capital.— Barry Loudermilk (@RepLoudermilk) December 6, 2017
It is beyond time for the United States to embrace reality and formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.— Barry Loudermilk (@RepLoudermilk) December 6, 2017
I worry the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel & move the US embassy will threaten Israeli security & lead to violence that will cost both Israeli & Palestinian lives. pic.twitter.com/B70WFzNtQr— Ann McLane Kuster (@RepAnnieKuster) December 6, 2017
I applaud the decision today by @POTUS to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is Israel's undivided capital. By moving our embassy there, we're sending a message of support for our strongest ally in the Middle East.— Rep. Glenn Grothman (@RepGrothman) December 6, 2017
Today @POTUS @realDonaldTrump made clear the United States stands with our strongest ally in the Middle East. #Jerusalem is the true capital of Israel and should be recognized as such. https://t.co/H47M3DBHHG— Bill Shuster (@RepBillShuster) December 6, 2017
Grateful to @POTUS for today’s historic action to officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. No other nation can say they have been a more loyal friend to America throughout their existence than the State of #Israel.— John Culberson (@CongCulberson) December 6, 2017
Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, so that’s where our embassy should be. I applaud @realDonaldTrump's decision. We are beginning a new chapter in our alliance, one in which America keeps our promises & doesn’t waffle about where our true allegiance lies. → https://t.co/GGPTSqFZcT pic.twitter.com/YTO6OhEsyF— Martha McSally (@RepMcSally) December 6, 2017
Today's declaration by @POTUS officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem is an important step forward in recognizing the sovereignty and undeniable legitimacy of our closest ally in the region.— Congresswoman Tenney (@RepTenney) December 6, 2017
Jerusalem is a vibrant metropolis where the rights of all citizens, regardless of religion or race, are respected. Moving our embassy to Jerusalem is a clear statement that the United States and our allies will not be ruled by political threats and violent terror.— Congresswoman Tenney (@RepTenney) December 6, 2017
This White House continues to play politics with issues of national security and international peace, and its reckless decision making should concern us all. pic.twitter.com/ywMSDvhZNb— Keith Ellison (@keithellison) December 6, 2017
For millennia, Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the State of #Israel. I’m proud to support @POTUS in reiterating U.S. policy & support for our ally, and in recognizing Israel’s right to exist. pic.twitter.com/XeAJpHIY0c— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) December 6, 2017
#Jerusalem has always been the capital of Israel. I’ve long supported moving the U.S. embassy there, including voting for the bipartisan Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995.— Rob Portman (@senrobportman) December 6, 2017
The status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved between #Israelis and #Palestinians. This move by @POTUS is needlessly provocative and threatens America’s leadership role in the peace process.— Rep. Joe Courtney (@RepJoeCourtney) December 6, 2017
The fact that @StateDept had to preemptively issue a travel advisory for U.S. citizens and @deptofdefense put military on alert prior to @POTUS’s announcement on #Israel shows how reckless and uncalculated a move this was.— Rep. Joe Courtney (@RepJoeCourtney) December 6, 2017
By relocating our embassy to Jerusalem, @realDonaldTrump is doing what our country should have done two decades ago: fulfill our promise to our ally and formally recognize the Jewish State of Israel’s undivided capital.— Martha McSally (@RepMcSally) December 6, 2017
My full statement → https://t.co/gGhmX8XMHg pic.twitter.com/JAbW8P2ELb
With today's announcement, we are finally officially stating what is a well-known fact. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and we are finally adhering to our own decades-old law in relocating our embassy there as well. Thank you, @POTUS. pic.twitter.com/vEPGGWO07P— Randy Weber (@TXRandy14) December 6, 2017
I applaud decision by @POTUS to recognize Jerusalem as rightful capital of #Israel. This move affirms existing U.S law and is common-sense: most of Israel's government agencies and parliament are in Jerusalem. Proud to support our ally. 🇮🇱— Rep. Vicky Hartzler (@RepHartzler) December 6, 2017
Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people for more than three thousand years, and since 1948 the capital of the Jewish state. These are facts that cannot be denied.— Rep. Brad Schneider (@RepSchneider) December 6, 2017
Today’s announcement does not & should not change US commitment to a real and sustainable peace. Only through direct negotiations between Israel & the Palestinians will a viable two-state solution be achieved w/ 2 peoples living side-by-side in peace, security & prosperity.— Rep. Brad Schneider (@RepSchneider) December 6, 2017
I applaud @realDonaldTrump for recognizing that #Jerusalem is the capital of #Israel and beginning the process of moving the U.S. embassy there. Jerusalem has been, and always will be, the capital of the State of Israel.— Raúl R. Labrador (@Raul_Labrador) December 6, 2017
The historical capital of Israel has long been Jerusalem. It is about time the United States recognizes this and places our embassy where it belongs- in Jerusalem.— Ted Poe (@JudgeTedPoe) December 6, 2017
Our bond with #Israel is unique & its strength is the foundation of American leadership in the Middle East. The announcement from @POTUS that our embassy will be located in Jerusalem strengthens that bond. Read my full statement 👉🏽 pic.twitter.com/fJP89S3Vp5— Joe Wilson (@RepJoeWilson) December 6, 2017
President Trump has once again appealed to his base at the expense of international diplomacy and peace. Our joint statement on his announcement today ↓ pic.twitter.com/rtzZQOuo77— David E. Price (@RepDavidEPrice) December 6, 2017
I fully support the Administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocation of our embassy as we continue to work towards peace in that region. The six-month delay will allow this process to continue as we assess security and other considerations.— John Faso (@RepJohnFaso) December 6, 2017
Trump blows up chances for Middle East peace with announcement on Jerusalem, inflaming not just Arab neighbors but virtually the entire world. https://t.co/vwzpGtqeFS— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) December 6, 2017
Donald Trump’s Jerusalem announcement is a misguided, ill-timed move which will antagonize key allies and endanger the peace process. https://t.co/mgEFAnEaLr— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) December 6, 2017
Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem sends the Palestinian Authority a message that their days of denying @Israel’s existence are over, & that they must become an honest partner in peace. I commend @realDonaldTrump today for honoring our friend & ally Israelhttps://t.co/NCKcl6MQtd— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) December 6, 2017
Factcheck:— Dennis Ross (@RepDennisRoss) December 6, 2017
Recognition of the legitimate capital of a nation–our ally–is not a threat to peace.
You know what is?
Terrorists who threaten to attack civilians, blow up buses, and bomb pizza parlors in order to influence U.S. policy. https://t.co/d0rEe4w0TE
For years, Congress has overwhelmingly agreed that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. This decision confirms what we already knew, that the United States stands with our allies and friends. https://t.co/Io8EKY8T6j— Lynn Jenkins (@RepLynnJenkins) December 6, 2017
I'm very concerned that @realDonaldTrump's #Jerusalem announcement will further set back efforts to achieve a two-state solution—and the reaction we see across the world is troubling. This could have destabilizing consequences for a region already rife with tensions.— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) December 6, 2017
I fully support @POTUS decision to recognize #Jerusalem as the capital of #Israel. Having first been expressed in the Jerusalem Recognition Act of 1995 & reaffirmed by a unanimous vote in Senate just 6 months ago, this historic step has strong, bipartisan in Congress. https://t.co/lMncH5kNnH— Brian Babin (@RepBrianBabin) December 6, 2017
.@RepTedDeutch + I agree #POTUS made right decision to uphold longstanding #US policy + recognize #Jerusalem as #Israel's capital, reaffirming the deep-rooted religious, cultural and historic ties to the Jewish people. https://t.co/NkcqZjbe4T— Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (@RosLehtinen) December 6, 2017
I applaud @POTUS for recognizing #Jerusalem as the capital of #Israel & beginning the process of moving our embassy to the Holy City. As an original cosponsor of the bill that prompted this action, I look forward to supporting him as they begin the process of moving the embassy. pic.twitter.com/mVZ0gCbKPu— Jim Inhofe (@JimInhofe) December 6, 2017
Today will surely shine throughout world history. After decades of delay, the USA will officially recognize #Jerusalem as the capital of #Israel and rightly relocate our embassy there. I thank @realDonaldTrump for keeping his promise and standing strong with our friend for peace. pic.twitter.com/j7MNJFB619— Rep. Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyPA) December 6, 2017
.@POTUS kept his campaign promise to declare that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as it has been for thousands of years. I applaud him for laying the groundwork to swiftly relocate the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem https://t.co/lYp1fPgHin— Rep. Doug Lamborn (@RepDLamborn) December 6, 2017
Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol is not an extreme measure. On the other hand, threatening unrest and violence in response to that recognition is emblematic of the extremism and anti-Semitism that’s the true roadblock to peace.— Ken Calvert (@KenCalvert) December 6, 2017
The sky is blue, the Clemson Tigers are ranked #1, and the capital of Israel is in Jerusalem. Great call Mr. President! We need to stand by our allies.— Rep. Jeff Duncan (@RepJeffDuncan) December 6, 2017
My full statement on the president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and begin the process of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem: pic.twitter.com/2E7IKqCa4N— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) December 6, 2017
I've long believed #Jerusalem is the true capital of #Israel. Today's announcement should be part of a comprehensive diplomatic strategy in coordination w/ regional partners to achieve peace & security btw Israelis & Palestinians. https://t.co/H9QxdmZSCQ— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) December 6, 2017
Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel, something that the United States Congress has reaffirmed and a fact of history that cannot be denied. 1/2— Steny Hoyer (@WhipHoyer) December 6, 2017
Our country must play a constructive role in supporting Israel as it seeks the peace and security its people deserve by continuing to promote a two-state solution through direct, bilateral negotiations that will end any question of Jerusalem’s status. 2/2— Steny Hoyer (@WhipHoyer) December 6, 2017
Today is an important day for the United States, and for our Israeli allies and friends. I applaud the President for affirming U.S. Law and recognizing Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of Israel. My full statement here: https://t.co/D2GgegLJLY— Rep. Don Bacon (@RepDonBacon) December 6, 2017
Jerusalem has been – & will always be – the undivided capital of Israel. I applaud President Trump for the decision to recognize it as such. https://t.co/5aY0cdNVOC— Rep. Karen Handel (@RepKHandel) December 6, 2017
I applaud @POTUS @realDonaldTrump's action to implement the 1995 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move our embassy to its rightful place in the city. Jerusalem is the historic capital of the Jewish people. I pray for a peaceful transition. pic.twitter.com/gECYTNE1KL— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) December 6, 2017
It is well past time that our embassy is moved to its rightful home. Though many may be upset with the decision, or even use this as an excuse to incite violence, we must remember that #Jerusalem is the country’s true capital. #israel— Mario Diaz-Balart (@MarioDB) December 6, 2017
.@POTUS’s recognition of #Jerusalem as the rightful capital of #Israel was not only an act of political valor, it was a promise kept to the American people who voted him into office. FULL STATEMENT: https://t.co/dqmelCHRWC— Louie Gohmert (@replouiegohmert) December 6, 2017
I commend @POTUS for his unwavering support of Israel & his decision to recognize Jerusalem as its capital. For 22 years, the United States has acknowledged it as such, and now is the time to show the world that our country always back its allies and will always stand with Israel— Rep. Roger Williams (@RepRWilliams) December 6, 2017
Jerusalem is the historic, declared and functioning capital of Israel. Its legislature and other national institutions are in Jerusalem. There’s bipartisan support for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and I applaud the president’s actions today.— Ken Calvert (@KenCalvert) December 6, 2017
As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am deeply concerned that this decision could provoke increased violence and instability in the region, and I believe it is a harmful setback to efforts to revive the peace process.— Rep. Shea-Porter (@RepSheaPorter) December 6, 2017
After 8 years of the Obama Administration’s failure to support our closest ally, this sends a powerful message to the world – the U.S. will stand shoulder to shoulder with #Israel, our friend and the stronghold of democracy in the Middle East. https://t.co/KRnvT9zgKk— Rep. David Kustoff (@RepDavidKustoff) December 6, 2017
There are times throughout United States' history when our Presidents have sent the rest of the world a clear, powerful message of leadership and conviction.— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) December 6, 2017
This historic moment will be remembered as one of those times.