North America

Trump's Jerusalem policy defies warnings

President Donald Trump announces the US now recognises Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. (AAP)

Flying in the face of global warnings, US President Donald Trump has recognised Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, saying it's a reset for the conflict.

President Donald Trump has reversed decades of US policy and recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, effectively taking sides in one of the thorniest issues in the Mideast dispute and upsetting Washington's friends and foes alike.

Trump announced his administration would begin a process of moving the US embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step expected to take years and one that his predecessors had avoided so as not to inflame tensions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Trump's announcement as a "historic landmark" but other close Western allies of Washington such as Britain and France were critical.

Palestinians accused the United States of abdicating its responsibility to try to broker peace.

The international community does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the entire city, believing its status should be resolved in negotiations. No other country has its embassy in Jerusalem.

Trump's decision fulfills a campaign promise and will please Republican conservatives and evangelicals who make up a sizeable portion of his domestic support.

"I have determined that it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Trump said in a speech in the White House. "While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering."

Trump's decision risks further inflaming a region already grappling with conflict in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Protests broke out in areas of Jordan's capital Amman inhabited by Palestinian refugees and several hundred protesters gathered outside the US consulate in Istanbul.

Youths chanted anti-American slogans in Amman, while in the Baqaa refugee camp on the city's outskirts, hundreds of protesters roamed the streets denouncing Trump and calling on Jordan's government to scrap its 1994 peace treaty with Israel. "Down with America. America is the mother of terror," they chanted.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Trump's decision was tantamount to the United States abdicating its peace mediator role. Jordan called Trump's decision "legally null"

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas accused Trump of a "flagrant aggression against the Palestinian people."

Pope Francis called for Jerusalem's status quo to be respected, saying new tension would further inflame world conflicts. China and Russia expressed concern the move could aggravate Middle East hostilities.

British Prime Minster Theresa May said: "We disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement. We believe it is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region."

French President Emmanuel Macron said Trump's announcement was "regrettable." UN chief Antonio Guterres said there was no alternative to a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch