Thursday December 7, 2017
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US Vice President Mike Pence listens as US President Donald Trump announces that the United States recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in Washington, December 6, 2017. — Reuters picUS Vice President Mike Pence listens as US President Donald Trump announces that the United States recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in Washington, December 6, 2017. — Reuters picWASHINGTON, Dec 7 — US lawmakers across the political spectrum reacted positively to President Donald Trump’s announcement this morning that he is recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, although some warned the move would enflame tensions and stall peace efforts.

Several Democrats and Trump’s Republicans hailed the move as long overdue.

“Jerusalem has been, and always will be, the eternal, undivided capital of the State of Israel,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement.

“Today’s announcement is a recognition of reality that in no way inhibits efforts to reach a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

In the Senate, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker — a Republican Trump critic — applauded the president’s decision, as did the panel’s top Democrat, Ben Cardin.

“Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel and the location of the US Embassy should reflect this fact,” Cardin said.

He added that “going forward, it is critical that all religious and ethnic groups continue to have access to Jerusalem.”

Trump’s announcement launched the process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, making good on a campaign promise dear to evangelical Christian and right-wing Jewish voters.

But it also plunges Washington into a decades-long dispute over a city considered holy by Jews, Muslims and Christians, and flies in the face of warnings from US allies and leaders across the Middle East.

While number two House Democrat Steny Hoyer, a staunch Israel supporter, said Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish state is “a fact of history that cannot be denied,” the party’s leader offered words of warning.

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish homeland,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said.

“But in the absence of a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem now may needlessly spark mass protests, fuel tensions, and make it more difficult to reach a durable peace.”

The Jerusalem Embassy Act calling for moving the US embassy to Jerusalem overwhelmingly passed Congress and became law in 1995 during Democrat Bill Clinton’s presidency.

But Clinton, and all of his successors until Trump, signed a waiver every six months that suspended the law on the grounds that it would be detrimental to US national security interests. — AFP

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