WASHINGTON: Facing global condemnation on the issue of recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, the White House today defended the decision of President Donald Trump, asserting that it was a "reflection of the ground realities" and the US was committed to the peace process.
Trump in a major policy address had on Wednesday announced to recognise Jerusalem as the Israel's capital. The decision was immediately welcomed by Israel, but has resulted in outrage in the Middle East and opposition from many American partners and allies.
"In the President's remarks, he said that we are as committed to the peace process as ever, and we want to continue to push forward in those conversations and those discussions.
"And hopefully the ultimate goal, of all those parties is to reach a peace a deal. That's something that the United States is very much committed," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference.
When asked whether any other country is planning to follow the US in this regard, Sanders said, "I'm not aware of any country's commitment to follow suit on this." "I'm not aware of any countries that we anticipate that happening at any point soon. I'm not saying that they aren't, but I'm not aware of them," she said.
At a separate briefing, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David M Satterfield reiterated President Trump's landmark announcement recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
"We recognise Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel. We are not changing or taking a position on the boundaries of sovereignty in Jerusalem, including geographic boundaries. And I will not elaborate beyond that," he said.
The United States, he said, regards issues like boundaries of sovereignty, borders as a matter for permanent status or final status negotiations to be resolved by the parties concerned.
"There has been no change in our policy with respect to consular practice or passport issuance at this time. With respect to maps, we are, of course, examining that issue, and when we have a decision we will announce it with respect to how we will treat Jerusalem for official USG-produced mapping purposes," Satterfield said.
House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce welcomed the administration's decision to recognise Israel's self-identified capital.
"Sovereign nations have a right to determine their seat of government, and our close ally Israel should not be treated differently. Relocating the US Embassy should be done carefully, and in a way that advances our national security interests in a dangerous and unstable region," he said.
Senator David Perdue commended Trump for taking "continued steps to reaffirm" the United States' relationship with Israel after years of "questionable policies" of the Obama Administration.
"By recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the President is recognising both an historic and modern reality, Jerusalem is the center for the Jewish people and all parts of Israeli government reside there today.
"President Trump has shown that Israel is a priority, and we will continue to work together in support of our longtime friend and ally," he said.
The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee termed the decision as "historic".
"For the first time, the United States officially recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This recognition is a long-overdue step to implement the US law….
"Today's action by President Trump is an important, historic step for which we are grateful," it said.
The Anti-Defamation League welcomed Trump's announcement that the United States – almost 70 years after the founding of the state of Israel – will begin the process to relocate its embassy consistent with the longstanding bipartisan consensus as enshrined in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.
New York Daily News editorial board said Trump's "acknowledgement of reality" by formally recognising Jerusalem as Israeli capital was welcome.
"It undoes 70 years of American fiction that this is a city without a country, part of some mythical international territory, neither Jewish nor Arab… Finally recognising that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel states a fact that anti- Israel forces need to get through their heads sooner or later: The Jewish State isn't going anywhere. Deal with it," the daily said.