President Trump will announce that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but will sign an exemption that delays the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to there, said on Tuesday
senior administration officials
Trump will make the announcement on Wednesday in a speech that will be followed closely by other world leaders who fear that the measure will undermine peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians and provoke protests throughout the Middle East.
In an effort to fulfill a campaign promise, Trump will direct the State Department to begin the process of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.
But administration officials said the move would not take place immediately because there is not enough space to house the approximately 1,000 employees of the embassy in Jerusalem. Therefore, Trump will sign an exemption keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv for the next six months.
Officials said Trump would continue to sign the exemption until the move is completed, a process that could take no less than three or four years.
Even so, the president's decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel ends decades of US policy in the Middle East and runs the risk of inflaming violence in an already tense region.
Trump informed the Israeli, Arab and European leaders of his decision in telephone calls in the last two days.
Some, including the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and the King of Jordan, Abdullah II, warned him that the announcement would have "dangerous" repercussions for regional stability.
The Palestinians hope to make East Jerusalem the capital of a future state and the ancient city has sacred sites that are important to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.
Senior Trump administration officials downplayed those concerns and said the decision leaves room for the state of Jerusalem to be considered in negotiations with Israel.
"As we have said, this announcement does not change the US policy on specific borders, dimensions, none of that," said one official. "That will be subject to final status negotiations."
They argued that the measure could help the peace process by offering a "recognition of reality" about Jerusalem.
"For a long time, the position of the United States He argued that ambiguity would advance the prospect of peace," said another official. "We are 22 years old and it seems that now the physical location of the US embassy is not an impediment to a peace agreement."
In making the decision, Trump weighed heavily on internal politics in addition to the situation in the Middle East.
He repeatedly promised during the 2016 campaign to relocate the US embassy. UU To Jerusalem, something that pleased many of his pro-Israel and evangelical Christian supporters.
Trump, however, has been hampered by some of his advisers who have urged him not to move the embassy to avoid provoking tensions in the Middle East at a time when he is dealing with the struggle against ISIS, the war in Afghanistan and the nuclear aggression of North Korea.
Officials said that another consideration in signing the exemption was to avoid a major cut in funding from the State Department ordered by a 1995 law if the embassy does not move to Jerusalem. Each president has renounced the law since its approval.
They said that immediately appoint the US consulate. UU In Jerusalem as an embassy it was out of the question for security and logistical reasons.
Although Trump is not ordering the immediate relocation of the embassy, his decision is expected to provoke demonstrations in the region.
Hamas, the extremist Islamic group that partially controls the Gaza Strip, has declared on Friday a "Day of Fury" in response to Trump's expected announcement.
Jerusalem has long been the thorniest issue in the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and the international community considers the state of the city unstable.
East Jerusalem was captured by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967, unifying the city under Israeli control. Jerusalem houses the Israeli parliament and the residence of the prime minister, but the Palestinians have demanded that part of the city be reserved as a capital for them.