Around 1 pm Wednesday, President Donald Trump will officially recognize Jerusalem the capital of Israel and announce an intent to move the US embassy to that city, senior administration officials told reporters Tuesday evening following a day of media speculation and warnings from some world leaders about what consequences such decisions might carry.
According to officials, the President has engaged with all interested parties — including major players and leaders in the broader Middle East — and told them of his intentions. He hoped to help ease concerns arising from the sensitive nature of affirming the “historic and current reality” formally recognizing the role Jerusalem plays in Israeli governing.
Officials said the President “remains committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement between” Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and is “prepared to support a two state solution” if both parties agree they want such an accord. “The president came to the judgment…this was both the right time and the right step to take” to fulfill his hope for peace in the region, administration officials said.
This comes on the heels of the House of Representatives passing legislation Tuesday that would cease all U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority:
The House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a bill that could end all U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority in response to a program under which officials give financial support to the families of terrorists who are killed or imprisoned.
The Taylor Force Act, named for a former Army officer who was murdered in 2016 while traveling in Israel, would strip the Palestinian Authority of most of its U.S. foreign aid if local officials can’t certify that they stop making payments to terrorists’ families, a practice that has been dubbed “pay-to-slay” by critics.
It passed easily in a voice vote Tuesday afternoon after a brief debate, a sign of how united Republicans and Democrats are on the bill.
Regarding his new approach to Israel, the President is said to have the complete support of his “peace team” — those working on the issue of peace in the region — but, in the meantime, will sign the waiver keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv open, primarily because failure to do so would cause an immediate lack of funding to the State Department. Given that the move of an embassy can take years — officials mentioned the 8 years it took to move the U.S. embassy in London — the waiver was necessary to make sure the State Department is fully funded during the location scouting, security assessment, building, and transferring phases of the move.