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Trump Transcript In Full: ‘Jerusalem Is (Not) Israel’s Capital’

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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has announced that the US formally recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will begin the process of moving its embassy to the city, breaking with decades of US policy.

Here is the transcript of that announcement, made in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on Wednesday, December 6.

“When I came into office, I promised to look at the world’s challenges with open eyes and very fresh thinking. We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past. Old challenges demand new approaches.

My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act, urging the federal government to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem and to recognise that that city – and so importantly – is Israel’s capital. This act passed Congress by an overwhelming bipartisan majority and was reaffirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago.

Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the US embassy to Jerusalem or to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.

Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace. Some say they lacked courage, but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time. Nevertheless, the record is in. After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.

Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.

I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long-overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement.

Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.

But today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.

It was 70 years ago that the United States, under President Truman, recognised the State of Israel. Ever since then, Israel has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem – the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times. Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the prime minister and the president. It is the headquarters of many government ministries.

For decades, visiting American presidents, secretaries of state, and military leaders have met their Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem, as I did on my trip to Israel earlier this year.

Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world. Over the past seven decades, the Israeli people have built a country where Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and according to their beliefs.

Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at al-Aqsa Mosque.

Palestinians burn Israeli and US flags during a protest against the US intention to move its embassy to Jerusalem and to recognise the city as the capital of Israel, in Gaza City [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]
However, through all of these years, presidents representing the United States have declined to officially recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In fact, we have declined to acknowledge any Israeli capital at all.

But today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.

That is why, consistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers, and planners, so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.

In making these announcements, I also want to make one point very clear: This decision is not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement. We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians. We are not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.

The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement. Without question, Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in those talks. The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides.

In the meantime, I call on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites, including the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif.

Above all, our greatest hope is for peace, the universal yearning in every human soul. With today’s action, I reaffirm my administration’s long-standing commitment to a future of peace and security for the region.

There will, of course, be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement. But we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a peace and a place far greater in understanding and cooperation.

This sacred city should call forth the best in humanity, lifting our sights to what it is possible; not pulling us back and down to the old fights that have become so totally predictable. Peace is never beyond the grasp of those willing to reach.

So today, we call for calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate. Our children should inherit our love, not our conflicts.

I repeat the message I delivered at the historic and extraordinary summit in Saudi Arabia earlier this year: The Middle East is a region rich with culture, spirit, and history. Its people are brilliant, proud, and diverse, vibrant and strong. But the incredible future awaiting this region is held at bay by bloodshed, ignorance, and terror.

Vice President Pence will travel to the region in the coming days to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism that threatens the hopes and dreams of future generations.

It is time for the many who desire peace to expel the extremists from their midst. It is time for all civilized nations, and people, to respond to disagreement with reasoned debate – not violence.

And it is time for young and moderate voices all across the Middle East to claim for themselves a bright and beautiful future.

So today, let us rededicate ourselves to a path of mutual understanding and respect. Let us rethink old assumptions and open our hearts and minds to possible and possibilities. And finally, I ask the leaders of the region – political and religious; Israeli and Palestinian; Jewish and Christian and Muslim – to join us in the noble quest for lasting peace.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless Israel. God bless the Palestinians. And God bless the United States. Thank you very much. Thank you.”

It was 70 years ago that the United States, under President Truman, recognised the State of Israel. Ever since then, Israel has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem – the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times. Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the prime minister and the president. It is the headquarters of many government ministries.

For decades, visiting American presidents, secretaries of state, and military leaders have met their Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem, as I did on my trip to Israel earlier this year.

Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world. Over the past seven decades, the Israeli people have built a country where Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and according to their beliefs.

Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at al-Aqsa Mosque.

However, through all of these years, presidents representing the United States have declined to officially recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In fact, we have declined to acknowledge any Israeli capital at all.

But today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.

That is why, consistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers, and planners, so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.

In making these announcements, I also want to make one point very clear: This decision is not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement. We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians. We are not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.

The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement. Without question, Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in those talks. The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides.

In the meantime, I call on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites, including the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif.

Above all, our greatest hope is for peace, the universal yearning in every human soul. With today’s action, I reaffirm my administration’s long-standing commitment to a future of peace and security for the region.

There will, of course, be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement. But we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a peace and a place far greater in understanding and cooperation.

This sacred city should call forth the best in humanity, lifting our sights to what it is possible; not pulling us back and down to the old fights that have become so totally predictable. Peace is never beyond the grasp of those willing to reach.

So today, we call for calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate. Our children should inherit our love, not our conflicts.

I repeat the message I delivered at the historic and extraordinary summit in Saudi Arabia earlier this year: The Middle East is a region rich with culture, spirit, and history. Its people are brilliant, proud, and diverse, vibrant and strong. But the incredible future awaiting this region is held at bay by bloodshed, ignorance, and terror.

Vice President Pence will travel to the region in the coming days to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism that threatens the hopes and dreams of future generations.

It is time for the many who desire peace to expel the extremists from their midst. It is time for all civilized nations, and people, to respond to disagreement with reasoned debate – not violence.

And it is time for young and moderate voices all across the Middle East to claim for themselves a bright and beautiful future.

So today, let us rededicate ourselves to a path of mutual understanding and respect. Let us rethink old assumptions and open our hearts and minds to possible and possibilities. And finally, I ask the leaders of the region – political and religious; Israeli and Palestinian; Jewish and Christian and Muslim – to join us in the noble quest for lasting peace.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless Israel. God bless the Palestinians. And God bless the United States. Thank you very much. Thank you.” – Al-Jazeera

COMMENTS

US President Donald Trump called Jerusalem the capital of Israel on Wednesday and began the process moving his country’s embassy to the city.

The move sparked global condemnation from world leaders.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem at the end of the 1967 War with Syria, Egypt and Jordan; the western half of the holy city had been captured in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem effectively put the entire city under de facto Israeli control. Israeli jurisdiction and ownership of Jerusalem, however, is not recognised by the international community, including the United States.

The status of Jerusalem remains one of the main sticking points in efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

International community position

Under the 1947 UN Partition Plan to divide historical Palestine between Jewish and Arab states, Jerusalem was granted special status and was meant to be placed under international sovereignty and control. The special status was based on Jerusalem’s religious importance to the three Abrahamic religions.

In the 1948 war, following the UN’s recommendation to divide Palestine, Zionist forces took control of the western half of the city and declared the territory part of its state.

During the 1967 war, Israel captured the eastern half of Jerusalem, which was under Jordanian control at the time, and proceeded to effectively annex it by extending Israeli law, bringing it directly under its jurisdiction, in a breach of international law.

In 1980, Israel passed the “Jerusalem Law”, stating that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel”, thereby formalising its annexation of East Jerusalem.

READ MORE: Who owns Jerusalem?

In response, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 478 in 1980, declaring the law “null and void”.

The international community, including the US, officially regards East Jerusalem as occupied territory. Additionally, no country in the world recognises any part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, with the exception of Russia, which announced its recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel earlier this year.

As of now, all embassies are based in Tel Aviv.

However, on Wednesday, December 6, US President Donald Trump is expected to announce US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and direct the state department to begin the lengthy process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the city, according to senior White House officials.

The illegal Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem violates several principles under international law, which outlines that an occupying power does not have sovereignty in the territory it occupies.

Palestinians in Jerusalem

Despite Israel’s de facto annexation of East Jerusalem, Palestinians who live there were not granted Israeli citizenship.

Today, some 420,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem have “permanent residency” ID cards. They also carry temporary Jordanian passports without a national identification number. This means that they are not full Jordanian citizens – they need a work permit to work in Jordan and do not have access to governmental services and benefits such as reduced education fees.

Palestinian Jerusalemites are essentially stateless, stuck in legal limbo – they are not citizens of Israel, nor are they citizens of Jordan or Palestine.

Israel treats Palestinians in East Jerusalem as foreign immigrants who live there as a favour granted to them by the state and not by right, despite having been born there. They are required to fulfil a certain set of requirements to maintain their residency status and live in constant fear of having their residency revoked.

Any Palestinian who has lived outside the boundaries of Jerusalem for a certain period of time, whether in a foreign country or even in the West Bank, is at risk of losing their right to live there.

Those who cannot prove that the “centre of their life” is in Jerusalem and that they have lived there continuously, lose their right to live in their city of birth. They must submit dozens of documents including title deeds, rent contracts and salary slips. Obtaining citizenship from another country also leads to the revocation of their status.

In the meantime, any Jew around the world enjoys the right to live in Israel and to obtain Israeli citizenship under Israel’s Law of Return.

Since 1967, Israel has revoked the status of 14,000 Palestinians, according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem.

Settlements

Israel’s settlement project in East Jerusalem, which is aimed at the consolidation of Israel’s control over the city, is also considered illegal under international law.

The UN has affirmed in several resolutions that the settlement project is in direct contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying country from transferring its population into the areas it occupies.

READ MORE: What are illegal Israeli settlements?

There are several reasons behind this: to ensure that the occupation is temporary and to prevent the occupying state from establishing a long-term presence through military rule; to protect the occupied civilians from the theft of resources; to prevent apartheid and changes in the demographic makeup of the territory.

Yet, since 1967, Israel has built more than a dozen housing complexes for Jewish Israelis, known as settlements, some in the middle of Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem.

About 200,000 Israeli citizens live in East Jerusalem under army and police protection, with the largest single settlement complex housing 44,000 Israelis.

Such fortified settlements, often scattered between Palestinians’ homes, infringe on the freedom of movement, privacy and security of Palestinians.

Though Israel claims Jerusalem as its undivided capital, the realities for those who live there cannot be more different.

While Palestinians live under apartheid-like conditions, Israelis enjoy a sense of normality, guaranteed for them by Zionist rejime.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

 

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