US President Donald Trump is set to declare Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel later this week, according to a senior White House official.
The unnamed official told news site Politico that President Trump plans to confirm American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the holy city.
Trump has been a longstanding supporter of the Israeli regime, enjoying a personal relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu above most other world leaders.
Israel has held total dominion over the western half of Jerusalem since the Six Day War in 1967, when it also occupied the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Palestinians assert a right to a small part of east Jerusalem, which contains multiple holy sites revered by Muslims.
Their struggle has implications across the Middle East, cited by Muslim activists, groups and religious leader as a reason to oppose Israel, America and their allies.
Such a move by Trump, which could be carried out through a presidential statement or speech, would anger the Palestinians as well as the wider Muslim majority world, and will likely undermine the Trump administration’s fledgling effort to restart the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
It could, however, help satisfy the right-wing pro-Israel constituency that helped him win the presidency.
Trump is likely to continue his predecessors’ policy of signing a six-month waiver overriding a 1995 law requiring that the US Embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the officials said.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina, warned that a resolution of the conflict rested on East Jerusalem being recognised as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.
“East Jerusalem, with its holy places, is the beginning and the end of any solution and any project that saves the region from destruction,” he said in a statement that did not directly refer to Mr Trump or to America.