Senior U.S. officials have told news media that U.S. President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and start relocating the U.S. Embassy to the ancient city.
In a decision that risks fueling violence in the Middle East, Trump in a scheduled speech on December 6 will announce he has ordered development of a plan to move the embassy from Tel Aviv in a process expected to take three to four years, the officials said.
Trump will sign a waiver that authorizes him to delay the embassy relocation for now, since U.S. diplomats have not made necessary arrangements, the officials said.
Trump's endorsement of Israel's claim to all of Jerusalem as its capital would reverse a long-standing U.S. policy that the city's status must be decided in negotiations with Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state.
Most countries do not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire city, which is home to sites considered holy by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike.
The U.S. officials insisted that Trump’s decision to fulfill a key campaign promise was not meant to prejudice the outcome of eventual negotiations on the final status of Jerusalem.
Instead, they said Trump's announcement will reflect the "historic reality" that Jerusalem is the center of the Jewish faith and the "modern reality" that it is the seat of Israeli government.
But Palestinians and Arab leaders have warned Trump the move risks triggering violence.