Three senior administration officials confirmed Tuesday that President Donald Trump will officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the United States’s embassy there from Tel Aviv.
Trump is expected to make the announcement Wednesday, but the embassy would take years to move. The White House framed Trump’s decision, which would lend official recognition to an area unsettled in the eyes of the international community, as a way to affirm the “reality” of the situation in Israel.
The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem indicated Israel could see protests on the day of Trump’s announcement and restricted U.S. government employees’ travel in Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank:
Security ? Message for US ?? Citizens ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/NCXhVK7daD
— USCGJerusalem (@USCGJerusalem) December 5, 2017
According to The New York Times, Trump told Arab leaders that moving the embassy would speed up a peace process between Israelis and Palestinians by removing the issue, which comes up every six months.
During his announcement, the White House said, Trump won’t set a specific timetable for moving the embassy. He will, however, grant a six-month national security waiver, allowing the embassy to remain in Tel Aviv.
But Arab leaders said Trump’s decision could thwart the potential for peace in the region.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, according to the BBC, said recognizing Jerusalem “would constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims, all over the world.” Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas similarly warned of “dangerous consequences” for regional and world stability.
The White House argued, however, that maintaining ambiguity had yet to bring peace to the region.