United States President Donald Trump has officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Trump made the announcement on Wednesday from the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room, a move expected to inflame tensions in the region and ignite a violent backlash.
President Trump also directed the country’s State Department to relocate the U.S embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said.
“After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.”
The move signaled a willingness on Trump’s part to prioritize fulfilling a campaign promise over the consensus among US allies in the region.
“Today, I am delivering,” Trump said, referencing his campaign promise.
He said his order to the State Department will begin the process of hiring architects and building contractors to build an embassy that will be a “a magnificent tribute to peace.”
Jerusalem contains sites sacred to the three major monotheistic faiths.
East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, was annexed by Israel after the Six Day War of 1967, but is not internationally recognised as part of Israel.
The decision comes despite the opposition of the US’s allies in the Muslim world.
Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in Gaza city Wednesday against the move by the United States to change the status quo of Jerusalem.
Demonstrators marched from Al-Saraya square in central Gaza towards the unknown Soldier square in the west side of the city in response to calls by the Palestinian national factions.
The angered Palestinians shouted slogans against Trump’s potential move to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel or move the US embassy to the city, raising Palestinian flags and slogans saying “To Trump: Jerusalem is a Red Line” and “We shall protect Jerusalem with our souls and bodies.”
In calls with Trump on Tuesday, Arab leaders in the region and French President Emmanuel Macron expressed deep misgivings about Trump’s move and urged him to reconsider.
Islamic Hamas movement senior figure Salah Al-Bardaweel told Xinhua during the march that this angry demonstration “is one step in a series of steps that we will launch alongside Arab and Islamic states against the US decision regarding Jerusalem.”