February 25, 2018
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US President Donald Trump will recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and direct the state department to begin the lengthy process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the city, according to senior Trump administration officials. 

The announcement, which is expected at 18:00 GMT on Wednesday, comes amid global condemnation of the move.  

The officials said in a briefing that Trump’s expected announcement is “recognition of a reality”. 

The officials added that moving the embassy “will take years” and Trump will continue to sign six-month waiver until the process is complete.  

‘Dangerous repercussions’

The expected announcement comes despite warnings that such a move would have grave implications for the peace process in the Middle East and on regional stability. 

Trump held phone calls with the leaders of Palestine, Jordan and Egypt on Tuesday to inform them of his intention to move the embassy. 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had warned Trump against “the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world,” Navil Abu Rudeina, Abbass’ spokesman, said in a statement after Trump’s call. 

Jordan’s King Abdullah II told Trump that such a decision would have “dangerous repercussions on the stability and security of the region”, according to a statement released by the palace. 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in a statement, also cautioned Trump against “taking measures that would undermine the chances of peace in the Middle East”.

Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan threatened to cut diplomatic ties with Israel if Trump went through with the embassy move, calling it a “red line for Muslims”. 

Honest broker? 

Jerusalem’s status is an extremely sensitive aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  

Israel claims the city as its capital, following the occupation of East Jerusalem in the 1967 war with Syria, Egypt and Jordan, and considers Jerusalem to be a “united” city.

Palestinians have long seen East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

They say that a US move to relocate the embassy would prejudge one of the most sensitive issues in the conflict – the status of Jerusalem – and undermine Washington’s status as an honest mediator between the Israelis and Palestinians. 

A small group of Palestinians protested in Bethlehem on Tuesday evening, burning posters with the image of Trump. 

In a statement, Hamas called for Palestinians “to make Friday a day of rage against the occupation, rejecting moving the American embassy to Jerusalem and declaring it the capital of a Zionist entity”. 

The US officials announced on Tuesday that Trump “remains committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians and is optimistic that peace can be achieved”. 

But analysts, including Mustafa Barghouti, warn that the “Arabs and Muslims will not take this lying down”.  

“The Palestinian people will react, with a public, popular non-violent uprising.., Barghouti told Al Jazeera earlier on Tuesday. “That’s what you will see tomorrow, after tomorrow and the days after,” he added. 

No country currently has its embassy in Jerusalem, and the international community does not recognise Israel’s jurisdiction over and ownership of the city.

US Congress passed a law in 1995 that required the embassy be transferred to Jerusalem, but every president since then have repeatedly signed six-month waivers to override the implementation of law. 

White House officials on Tuesday said Trump, who pledged during the 2016 presidential campaign to move the embassy, will continue to sign the waiver until the embassy is reading to be transferred to Jerusalem in order to avoid the financial consequences of not implementing the law. 

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