During a Hanukkah ceremony at the White House, U.S. President Donald Trump discussed moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“We quickly moved the American embassy to Jerusalem and we got it built,” Trump said, as the crowd chanted “four more years.”
After praising the work of David Friedman, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Trump went on to say that after four months, “it’s built and it’s really beautiful.”
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He went on to say that he’s honoured to have moved the embassy on behalf of all the people celebrating Hanukkah at the White House.
“It’s an honour to do it for all the people in the room,” Trump said. “It’s an honour to do it for all of you, because that’s really what we’re doing it for.”
The relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv served as U.S. recognition that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This position has angered the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as a future capital.
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In announcing that Jerusalem would be home to a U.S. embassy, Trump recognized the 1995 decision by Congress called the Jerusalem Embassy Act.
Israeli parliament currently designates the united city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital after annexing the region in 1967. Trump’s recognition at the end of 2017 made this true in American law as well, Global News previously reported.
Since the act was passed, however, each president over the past two decades has waived that decision twice per year for fear of the international reaction, given the complex diplomatic state of the region.
But critics of the move, including some European officials, say the U.S. decision will only serve to exacerbate tensions and make it more difficult for the U.S. to offer itself as a neutral party.
The world’s largest body of Muslim-majority nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said it considered the U.S. move an “illegal decision” and “an attack” on the Palestinian people upon the embassy’s official opening in May.
Trump also condemned hate-fueled violence and speech against the Jewish community before referencing the deadly mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue this past October, which left 11 people dead.
“Throughout history, the Jewish people have suffered unthinkable repression and terrible violence, yet in the face of this hardship, the Jewish people have endured, overcome and thrived. Thrived like few, that I can tell you,” the president said.
— With files from the Associated Press.
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