Trump Calls Jerusalem Plan Step Toward Peace, but It Puts Mideast on Edge [The New York Times]
“In a much-anticipated speech from the White House, Mr. Trump argued that it was ‘the right thing to do’ to acknowledge the reality that Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government. … Mr. Trump said that the United States still wanted a negotiated peace agreement — and ‘would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides’ — and that he was not seeking to dictate the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the fiercely contested Holy City. … Many said that Mr. Trump’s move was destabilizing, that it risked setting off violence and that it would make achieving peace even more difficult. It also threw into doubt his ability to maintain the United States’ longstanding role as a mediator of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” according to The New York Times.
State Department Sets Up Emergency Task Force for Jerusalem Fallout [The Washington Post]
The Washington Post reports, “The State Department has set up a 24-hour task force to collect information and coordinate response to Trump’s speech, which has already caused protests at several U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. … ‘Trump is putting diplomats as well as American citizens at risk,’ one official said. ‘He is putting a bullseye on the U.S. and making Israel a target for more violence right before the holidays, which always is a time for high alerts.’ Two administration officials confirmed that Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis were opposed to the move internally, due to security concerns.”
Jerusalem's Christian Leaders to Trump: Recognition Will Cause 'Irreparable Damage' [Haaretz]
Haaretz reports, “Patriarchs and heads of local churches in Jerusalem penned a special letter addressed to U.S. President Donald Trump to express their concern over his intention to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and possibly relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The letter, sent on Wednesday hours ahead of the expected announcement by Trump, asks the president to walk back on the potential unilateral recognition of the city as solely Israeli. ‘Our solemn advice and plea is for the United States to continue recognizing the present international status of Jerusalem. Any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm,’ the clerics pleaded with the president. … The thirteen signatories on the letter all represent a diverse variety of churches affiliated with Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox and Apostolic religious sites.” Read Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem letter HERE.
Mideast Braces as Fallout Begins From Trump Shift on Jerusalem [Voice of America]
“Palestinians shuttered schools and shops and called for protests in West Bank towns Thursday, in a show of anger at President Donald Trump’s recognition of bitterly contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. … Saudi Arabia, a regional powerhouse that could help the White House push through a Middle East settlement, said Thursday the kingdom had warned against this step and ‘continues to express its deep regret at the U.S. administration’s decision,’ describing it ‘unjustified and irresponsible.’ … Abbas has not said what steps he would take, if any. Later Thursday, he is to meet with his closest Arab ally, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, to coordinate positions. Jordan plays a central role in the mounting controversy and, alongside other U.S. allies in the region, has slammed Trump’s decision on Jerusalem. The king is seen as one of Washington’s most dependable partners in the battle against Islamic extremism in the region,” according to Voice of America.