Obama reverses course on landmark foreign policy decision, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Australia reverses decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital after intense lobbying campaign in US Congress

The Obama administration reversed course on a landmark foreign policy decision on Monday, deciding to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, days after an intense lobbying campaign from President Barack Obama’s political opposition on Capitol Hill.

Administration officials justified the reversal, telling reporters that while they supported Israel’s historic claim to Jerusalem as the capital of a sovereign Jewish state as the right of a Jewish majority people, the administration’s policy had been mischaracterized in the media as a step toward recognition of both Israel and the Palestinians.

Officials said their decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was made in response to pressure from the United Nations, to clarify the administration’s previous position, as well as from the Israeli Parliament, which declared the city to be the Jewish state’s undivided capital.

The president’s decision leaves the fate of Jerusalem, a holy city to both Jews and Muslims, in between Israel and the Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem as their capital. The question of who controls Jerusalem has split the country and even some of Mr. Obama’s political allies say he will face significant challenges.

In making the decision, Obama officials said they had consulted with the State Department, the president’s envoy to the Middle East, and Secretary of State John Kerry. But administration officials declined to say precisely what they told each, citing policy secrecy.

Obama won a hard-fought victory in November by convincing more than 60% of Americans that he owed his political victory to Jerusalem becoming the capital of Israel. The symbolic vote carried symbolic weight as it became the first foreign policy issue to be resolved in the new Congress since the election.

“Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem is one of the cornerstones of the international community’s support for Israel’s very existence,” said the statement from the White House. “With this decision, the United States acknowledges that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.”

The Obama administration

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