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Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move embassy from Tel Aviv, officials say

 (Atef Safadi / EPA/Shutterstock)
(Atef Safadi / EPA/Shutterstock)

President Trump will declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel in a speech at the White House on Wednesday, three senior administration officials said.

He will instruct the State Department to begin a multi-year process for building a U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, asking for funding from Congress, choosing a site and designing the building. In the meantime, Trump will sign a waiver to the 1995 law that demanded the State Department move the embassy from Tel Aviv by May 31, 1999, as every president has done.

The embassy won’t be moved immediately, the officials said. They would not commit to a timetable, but one senior official said that opening a new U.S. embassy routinely takes three to four years.

“We don’t just put a plaque on the door and open a mission,” said the official. “There are major security and structural considerations and very, very strict guidelines anywhere in the world that have to be followed before a flag goes up.”

Trump will have to continue to sign waivers every six months to avoid cuts to the State Department budget that would kick in under the 1995 law. With the president committing to building the embassy in Jerusalem eventually, the White House would like Congress to amend the law to eliminate the waiver requirement.

The president recognizing Jerusalem as the capital doesn’t change U.S. positions on the administration of the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, and on final borders of Israel and a Palestinian state that may be part of a final peace deal, the officials said.

“The president believes this is a recognition of reality,” the official said, noting that the Israeli government has been based in Jerusalem for decades.

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