Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a response within minutes of U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The prime minister spoke of the ancient city of Jerusalem and the “genuine milestone” of Trump’s decision:
It’s rare to be able to speak of new and genuine milestones in the glorious history of this city, that today’s pronouncement by President Trump is such an occasion.
We’re profoundly grateful for the president, for his courageous and just position to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to prepare for the opening of the U.S. Embassy here.
This decision reflects the president’s commitment to an ancient but enduring truth, to fulfilling his promises and to advancing peace.
The president’s decision is an important step towards peace, for there is no peace that doesn’t include Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel.
Netanyahu called on other countries to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move their embassies there.
“I share President Trump’s commitment to advancing peace between Israel and all of our neighbors, including the Palestinians,” said Netanyahu. To that goal, he said Israel will continue to work with President Trump and his team to “make that dream of peace come true.”
The prime minister made clear that the “status quo” would remain the same at the holy cites, stating, “Israel will always ensure freedom of worship for Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.”
Netanyahu then addressed Trump directly, thanking him for the “historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.” He said, “The Jewish people and the Jewish state will be forever grateful.”
The United States Congress first passed the Jerusalem Recognition Act in 1995. While many presidents have promised in their campaigns and during their terms to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv, Trump is the first president to actually make a public move to fulfill that promise. Every six months, presidents have signed directives to delay implementation of the Act.
During a White House briefing on Tuesday evening, senior administration officials indicated that they did not expect the embassy to be up and running before at least three to four years.
Vice President Mike Pence will visit Israel this month. In Trump’s announcement Wednesday, he said that Pence will make the trip “to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism that threatens the hopes and dreams of future generations.”
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana.