President Donald Trump will announce America recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and begins the process of transferring embassies from Tel Aviv, a development that attracts negative reactions from most of the world.
Arab and Muslim countries warned such controversial moves could trigger tensions in the region and destroying US efforts to reach an Arab-Israeli peace deal. Palestinians called for three days of "Anger" to protest against President Trump's plan.
Pope Francis expressed "deep concern" about the move, while Turkey called for a meeting of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to coordinate the response.
Iran called the move "" wrong, illegitimate, provocative and very dangerous. "
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not mention the issue in his public appearance Wednesday (6/12).
The Trump Administration defensively defended the move, saying that the president only recognizing what he calls historical and modern reality. The move also embodies a campaign promise supported by evangelical and Jewish Christians.
Foreign Minister Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that the United States considers there is still "an excellent opportunity for peace" between Israel and the Palestinians. Speaking in Brussels, Tillerson said Trump "is deeply committed to the Middle East peace process, he has a team, the team is working very diligently." America's top diplomat urged to "listen carefully to the whole" Trump's speech.
White House officials who briefed journalists about the announcement said Trump would say he acknowledged that Jerusalem was not only the capital of the Jews but also where the Israeli government has since the establishment of modern Israel in 1948.
The official said the president will order the State Department to begin making plans to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv. They said the process would take years, to get a location, fund, and build a new building.
Before that was done, Trump would still sign the relocation delay.
Trump on Tuesday (5/12) calls Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and at least three other regional leaders to explain his decision.
The White House statement said Trump has reaffirmed its commitment to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the importance of supporting the talks. Under the law signed by President Bill Clinton in 1995, the embassy must be moved to Jerusalem unless the president signs a six-month postponement letter stating that such a move would threaten America's national security. Every president since Clinton signed it, including Trump.
Dennis Ross, who plays the American representative in the Middle East peace process under three presidents and cooperates with Israel and the Palestinians to reach the Interim Agreement in 1995, said Tuesday that Trump appears to be providing huge room for Israel and Arabs to maneuver in a newly changing environment. Officials in Washington have expressed concerns over potential anger against Israeli and American interests in the region.
The American Consulate on Wednesday banned American government officials and their families from traveling privately to the Old City and the West Bank, including Bethlehem and Jericho, in the middle the rise of calls for demonstrations.
American embassies around the world have also been ordered to improve security. [my/jm]