President Donald Trump on Monday addressed an audience in Jerusalem, Israel by a pre-taped video to mark the opening of the U.S. embassy in the city.
“United States under President Harry Truman became the first nation to recognize the state of Israel. Today we officially opened the United States embassy in Jerusalem. Congratulations,” Trump said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Back in December of 2017, Trump announced the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and would initiate plans to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“Almost immediately after declaring statehood in 1948, Israel designated the city of Jerusalem as its capital–the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times,” Trump said. “Today, Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government. It is the home of the Israeli legislature and the Israeli supreme court and Israel’s prime minister and president.”
Trump added that Israel is a sovereign nation and has the right to designate its own capital.
“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital,” Trump said.
The ceremony has intensified riots along the Israel-Gaza border, where Palestinians have been protesting for several weeks. There have been reports of casualties and injuries at the protests.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said such a move threatens the peace process, and other Middle Eastern leaders have warned the move could inflame tensions in the region.
Trump said the U.S. is still committed to a lasting peace deal for the region.
“The United States remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement, and we continue to support the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites including at the Temple Mount,” Trump said.
Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan led the American delegation of about 250 people, which also included Trump’s envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, American Ambassador David Friedman, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and White House advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Several Republicans from both the House of Representatives and the Senate were also part of the delegation.