President Trump’s announcement today that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is an unhelpful step with no tangible benefits, only serious risks.
Contradicting decades of bipartisan presidential policy, it does nothing to advance, and could seriously undermine, the administration’s stated commitment to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while potentially threatening Israel’s security and alienating Arab regional partners.
With this announcement, the question of whether and when the embassy is actually moved becomes a moot point. The act of recognizing Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem prior to a negotiated peace agreement will have the same damaging impact as an actual move of the embassy.
Israel’s capital is in Jerusalem and it should be internationally recognized as such in the context of an agreed two-state solution that also establishes a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. In the absence of that final agreement between the parties on the city’s status, blanket recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is premature and divisive. That is why, since 1967, all administrations have maintained that the final status of the entirety of Jerusalem is to be decided by negotiations, and have avoided any actions that could be interpreted as prejudging their outcome.
The president made absolutely clear that this decision was intended to deliver on a campaign promise. Once again, as in the case of the Iran nuclear agreement, ideology and political concerns are triumphing over the commonsense recommendations of US and Israeli security experts and the opinion of the majority of Jewish Americans. We hope it will not result in further violence and suffering for Israelis and Palestinians – but we fear that it might.
Members of Congress and Jewish communal leaders concerned about Israel’s security and future should not support this misguided and damaging decision.
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