WASHINGTON, United State — Hours before a momentous announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, US President Donald Trump said Thursday the move was “long overdue.”
“Many presidents have said they want to do something and they didn’t do it. Whether it’s courage or they changed their mind, I can’t tell you,” Trump said, portraying himself as daring to fulfill a promise that previous presidents have shied away from.
“I think it’s long overdue,” he said.
Trump is expected to upend decades of US policy later Wednesday by stating that the holy city — part of which is claimed by Palestinians — rightfully belongs to Israel.
The announcement has been preceded by warnings of a violent response in the Muslim world and demonstrators in the Gaza Strip burning American flags.
Trump’s announcement would mark a major milestone for Israel’s efforts to gain international legitimacy for its claims to Jerusalem. Israel calls Jerusalem its undivided capital, but the international community has refrained from recognizing it as such pending final status negotiations with the Palestinians, who seek the eastern half of the city as their own seat of power in a future state.
Israel rejects partition of the city.
Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital could be viewed as America discarding its longstanding neutrality and siding with Israel at a time that White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has been trying to midwife a new peace process into existence. Trump, too, has spoken of his desire for a “deal of the century” that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.