US officials have confirmed Donald Trump will recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday and instruct the State Department to begin the process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.
The officials say recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will be an acknowledgement of “historical and current reality” rather than a political statement.
They note that almost all of Israel’s government agencies and parliament are in Jerusalem, rather than Tel Aviv, where the US and other countries maintain embassies.
The officials say moving the embassy, long a campaign pledge that Mr Trump has insisted he must fulfil, will not happen immediately.
The officials spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to publicly discuss Mr Trump’s announcement beforehand.
They said numerous logistical and security details, as well as site determination and construction, will need to be finalised first. Because of those issues, the embassy is not likely to move for at least three or four years, presuming there is no future change in US policy.
To that end, the officials said Mr Trump will sign a waiver delaying the embassy move, which is required by US law every six months. He will continue to sign the waiver until preparations for the embassy move are complete.
The officials said the city’s physical and political borders will not be compromised.
The President’s decision – which would break with decades of US foreign policy – was met with harsh words from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who warned of “dangerous consequences”, according to Mr Abbas’ spokesperson.
On Tuesday night, Palestinians burned pictures of Mr Trump in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, based on a photo by AFP.
Mr Trump is expected to deliver the speech recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital later on Wednesday.