Washington: US President Donald Trump has taken a “courageous” and “historic” step by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, America’s Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has said.
Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital yesterday, reversing decades of US and international policy on the holy city, in a major announcement which many Arab leaders warned could trigger an upheaval in the already volatile Middle East.
Indian-American Haley said that for 22 years, there had been an overwhelming bipartisan consensus in favour of moving the US embassy in Israel to its rightful place in the Israeli capital city of Jerusalem.
“Today, the President took a courageous and historic step that was long overdue. Across the globe, America has its embassy in the capital city of the host country. Israel will now be no different. It is the just and right thing to do,” she said yesterday.
Noting that the Trump Administration was committed to seeing Israelis and Palestinians come together at peace, Haley said but at the same time it will do what it does in every other country and put the embassy in the capital.
“Courage doesn’t come by doing what everybody else says. Courage does by coming what you know is right. This is the right thing to do. And what the president is doing is he’s showing leadership,” Haley told Fox News.
“And will there be those that have negative feelings about what we’re doing? Yes, of course. But could this possibly lead to a peace process? Absolutely. And that should be our hope and that should be what we strive to do,” she said.
“This is following members of Congress. This is doing what the American people said. But we are also taking Jerusalem out of the discussion because the two sides have to come together on how they’re going to see Jerusalem, what they’re going to see as their capital,” she said.
Haley said several top American lawmakers have described Trump’s decision as “provocative” and “counterproductive”.
In a joint statement Congressmen David Price, Peter Welch, John Yarmuth, Barbara Lee and Earl Blumenauer said Trump’s announcement demonstrates “his complete disregard” for long-standing American and international diplomatic practice.
“It unilaterally undermines prospects for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and recklessly endangers US, Israeli, and regional security. For more than 50 years, Republican and Democratic Administrations have recognised that the US should stand as a good faith arbiter for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” they said.
The lawmakers said that recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel outside the framework of a final status agreement between the parties does more to sabotage than to advance peace.
Congressman Alcee Hastings warned that the ramifications of the decision could be profound.
“I fear that the President made his decision based on political expediency rather than sound foreign policy,” he said.
However, Senator Ted Cruz supported the move.
“I encourage countries around the world to now engage in their own moment of historical moral clarity, to follow America’s lead in recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, immediately begin the process of moving their embassies to Jerusalem, and stand with the US and Israel in voting against any future effort in international forums that attempts to deny historic truth,” Cruz said.
“President Trump’s decision sabotages relations with the Palestinians, stokes even more conflict in the Middle East, and further embarrasses the US in the world,” said Congresswoman Betty McCollum.
“The President is wilfully abdicating the US’ role as a peacemaker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ending any hope of a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state,” she alleged.