In a nearly 20-minute address on Dec. 6 from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and directed the United States State Department to begin the process of moving the embassy to an undeclared site in Jerusalem.
"Today, I am declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel and telling the State Department to start the process of moving from Tel Aviv," Trump said, adding that he is recognizing what has existed for many years, that Jerusalem is the seat of the Jewish state's government.
He noted that he will continually sign the required waivers until a Jerusalem opens its doors.The Jerusalem Embassy Act Of 1995 requires the U.S Embassy to move to Jerusalem by May 31, 1999. Every six months thereafter the president is required to sign a waiver until a embassy opens its doors. Failure to do so would result in massive cuts in State Department funding, including such things as security for embassies.
Trump is the first U.S. president to follow through on a promise to declare Jerusalem, a city that is claimed by Christians, Jews and Muslims to be vital to their religious heritage, as the capital of the Jewish state.
Woodmere resident Charles Miller and a group of people working on a project concerning historic Mt. Olive Cemetery in Jerusalem happened to have scheduled meetings with Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, as history is occurring.
“The reality that really exists is that since 1948, the seat of government sits here, all of the government is here in the capital city, and in the hearts and minds of Jews for thousands years. It is a reflection of reality in the past and that exists today,” said Miller, an attorney, adding that the Trump announcement makes this a “unique time to be here on a historic occasion.”
It is a controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as every president before him since 1948, the year Israel was established as a Jewish state, declined to do so, and moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv, where all the foreign embassies are, could be considered what some are calling a “kiss of death” to any peace negotiations in the Middle East.
Trump addressed that saying that "Jerusalem is the home of three great religions," and he anticipates disagreement, but still expects peace talks to continue and an agreement to satisfy both parties.
For another Woodmere resident, Rachael Schindler, recognizing erusalem as the capital is important to Israel and many Jewish people because of the historic and religious ties. “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel historically in our homeland for thousands of years,” she said. “Hence the Temple being built there all those years ago twice! Additionally, all Jews pray towards Jerusalem for centuries. The Arabs still pray towards Mecca and there is no mention of Jerusalem in the Koran at all.
Schindler believes that threats of violence by Arabs is “The Arab community trying to break Israel’s spirit by threatening to kill more people in days of frenzy because America finally stands up for truth in the UN and now in declaring what everyone already thinks and knows about our capital city.”
U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Democrat who represents the 4th Congressional District, which includes the Five Towns — which has one of the largest Jewish populations in the metropolitan area — supported Trump’s decision, and said she also supported the two-state solution, which would create an independent Palestinians homeland.
“Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and Jerusalem should be the home of our embassy,” she said. “That’s my belief, it’s consistent with U.S. law, and I support the decision to recognize it as official U.S. policy.”