The president will order this Wednesday to begin the transfer of the American embassy in the Holy City. A simple “statement of reality”, temper his advisers.
The White House confirmed Tuesday evening the content of the decision which will be made public on Wednesday. During a speech scheduled around 13 p.m. in Washington (20 p.m. in the Middle East), Donald Trump will announce that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. "It's a simple affirmation of reality, both historical and contemporary," argues an adviser to the president.
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In the process, Donald Trump will order the State Department to begin preparations for the move of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City. This cannot be done "overnight", he will sign the derogation ("waiver") to the law of 1995 conditioning this transfer to the imperatives of national security. His three predecessors had invoked this clause every six months. Trump believes that their caution has produced nothing. “We recognize that this is a sensitive subject, they say at the White House, but it is not going to be settled by ignoring a simple truth”.
That said, the president's advisers are working to minimize the impact of a measure perceived as biased and prejudging the outcome of the peace process - currently at a standstill. Jerusalem is also claimed as the capital of their future state by the Palestinians, its status to be defined directly between the parties. “The (American) decision does not affect the issues that remain to be negotiated,” said a member of the National Security Council. We recognize that the geographical boundaries (of the Israeli "capital") are subject to discussion. And we are not touching the status quo on the Holy Places. We are leaving space for the Palestinians to move forward.”
“This delivers on a major campaign promise”
The advisers and diplomats mobilized on Tuesday to present the decision are struggling to explain what American interests in the region should gain from it. "This materializes a major promise of the campaign", recalls one of them. “The president's judgment is that this is the right time,” said another. “We tried for 22 years to deny the facts, recognizing the reality constitutes an important change”, insists a third. They admit, however, that a “robust security plan” had to be activated “to protect our citizens and our embassies in the Middle East”.
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Donald Trump has ignored the warnings sent to him in recent days by Arab and European leaders, including Emmanuel Macron. “Everyone we spoke to wants to stay involved in the peace process, assure his advisers. We are not expecting a break from one of the parties or one of the facilitators”. Washington says it is limply in favor of a two-state solution, “if that is the decision” of those concerned. Alternatively, a plan apparently concocted between Americans and Saudis would grant them only limited sovereignty over a fragmented territory excluding Jerusalem.
To calm things down, the American administration promises to take its time. "No embassy anywhere in the world can be built in less than three or four years," said a diplomat. The need to accommodate a thousand civil servants and to respect security constraints “excludes simply placing a plaque marked embassy” on the Consulate General in Jerusalem, the current representation to the Palestinians.
Another instruction from Trump is to make the transfer “at minimal cost to American taxpayers.” He is therefore preparing to sign the same waiver every six months until the end of his term, "unless Congress changes the law", which would not be without irony.
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Source: © Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel