In a move that could be seen as one of the more important moments in his presidency, Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and, almost immediately, Benjamin Netanyahu offered his thanks.
The prime minister appeared before a bookshelf, flanked by an Israeli flag and a photo of his family, and said “Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years … it was here that our temples stood, our kings ruled, our prophets preached.” He continued, “we’re profoundly grateful to [President Trump] for his courageous and just decision … this decision reflects the president’s commitment to an ancient but enduring truth — to fulfilling his promises and to advancing peace.”
Netanyahu also called on other nations to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move their embassies to the city. He claimed to share President Trump’s commitment to advancing peace between Israel’s neighbors, specifically mentioning the Palestinians. The prime minister closed by thanking Trump again and announcing “the Jewish people and the Jewish state will be forever thankful.”
On Wednesday afternoon, just after 1 p.m. ET, President Trump appeared at a podium at the White House and stated “I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” he added that the state department is now preparing to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The president downplayed the controversy of his decision by calling the announcement “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality.” He also said that his administration will support a two-state solution to the ongoing disputes between the Israelis and Palestinians.
The arguments between Israel and Palestine are as old as the nations themselves — both countries claim Jerusalem as their capital city. Every administration has tried to figure out a way to stop the disputes and every administration has failed — world powers keep their embassies in Tel Aviv to avoid the appearance that they’re choosing a side. Netanyahu was furious when Obama abstained from voting in the UN resolution that condemned Israel’s settlements in Palestine. President Trump took to Twitter to blast his predecessor over the decision not to veto the U.N. resolution.
Robert Mueller’s prosecutors claim that Trump’s team did more than tweet about the U.N.’s decision. According to the charges filed last week against Michael Flynn, Mueller has evidence that Flynn contacted Russia about the resolution and even urged the Kremlin to delay the vote. Bloomberg reported that Flynn was acting at the behest of Jared Kushner when he spoke to the Russians.
Kushner has been tasked with negotiating peace in the middle east and Trump’s son-in-law has a history of supporting Israel — over the weekend we learned via a Newsweek report that Kushner pushed money to a group working to fund Israeli settlements. Even more importantly, Kushner did not include those donations in financial records that he filed with the Office of Government Ethics and that omission is sure to perk the interest of Mueller’s investigators.
In Palestine, the backlash against Trump was swift, with protesters burning photos of the president and Palestinian officials threatening to cut ties with the United States, per a New York Times report. Israeli forces are readying themselves for violence that may ensue and a Hamas leader declared that “the ball of fire will roll.” It seems that while Trump’s decision to give the nod to Israel was historic, it’s only another step in the never-ending dispute in the middle east.