Netanyahu Thanks Trump for 'Historic Decision' to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel's Capital

December 6, 2017

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday thanked President Donald Trump for his "historic decision" to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, saying it will advance peace in the Middle East.

"President Trump, thank you for today's historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital," Netanyahu said in a video statement. "The Jewish people and the Jewish state will be forever grateful."

Netanyahu noted that Jerusalem "has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years" and the capital of Israel for nearly 70 years, describing how the city has been the focus of the Jewish people's "hopes, dreams, and prayers" for three millennia.

Netanyahu's comments came shortly after Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, calling the move an "overdue step" for peace efforts between the Jewish state and the Palestinians. Trump also said that he is directing the State Department to make preparations to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Several world leaders, particularly from Europe and the Middle East, have criticized Trump's decision and said that it will lead to violence. Palestinian factions have called for "three days of rage" over the announcement.

"The president's decision is an important step towards peace, for there is no peace that doesn't include Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel," said Netanyahu, who called on all countries to join the U.S. in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to move their embassies to the city.

Netanyahu reiterated his commitment to advancing peace with the Palestinians and all of Israel's neighbors, adding that the Israeli government will continue to work with the Trump administration "to make that dream of peace come true."

The prime minister also addressed specific concerns over Trump's remarks, making clear that "there will be no change whatsoever to the status quo at the holy sites" in Jerusalem.

"Israel will always ensure freedom of worship for Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike," Netanyahu said.

The Israeli leader called Trump's announcement "courageous" and said it will advance peace.

"We're profoundly grateful for the president for his courageous and just decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to prepare for the opening of the U.S. embassy here," Netanyahu said. "This decision reflects the president's commitment to an ancient but enduring truth, to fulfilling his promises and to advancing peace."