Trump to declare Jerusalem as Israeli capital

FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2015 file photo, Palestinians pray during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, near the Dome of the Rock Mosque in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s old city. Saudi Arabia has spoken out strongly against any possible U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In a statement on the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, that the kingdom affirms the rights of Palestinian people regarding Jerusalem which it said “cannot be changed.” (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean, File)

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on a possible U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (all times local):

4 a.m.

U.S. officials say President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Wednesday and instruct the State Department to begin the multi-year process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.

The officials say recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will be an acknowledgement of “historical and current reality” rather than a political statement. They note that almost all of Israel’s government agencies and parliament are in Jerusalem, rather than Tel Aviv, where the U.S. and other countries maintain embassies.

The officials say moving the embassy, long a campaign pledge that Trump has insisted he must fulfill, will not happen immediately.

The officials spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss Trump’s announcement beforehand.

— AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee

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10:35 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump will deliver remarks Wednesday outlining his decision on a potential move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the president is “pretty solid” in his thinking on the plan but won’t say what Trump will announce. Sanders says the president will make the “best decision for the United States.”

U.S. officials have said Trump may recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that could inflame tensions across the Middle East but offset a likely decision delaying his campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Trump has been speaking Tuesday to Middle East leaders about the decision.

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9:30 p.m.

The U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem has ordered its personnel and their families not to conduct personal travel to Jerusalem’s Old City or the West Bank due to fears of unrest over an expected U.S. announcement.

Palestinian groups have threatened widespread protests if President Donald Trump recognizes contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or advances plans to move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv. Trump is expected to announce his decision Wednesday.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, the Consulate said U.S. government employees could still travel to the Old City and West Bank for “essential” business, but only with additional security.

The warning also urged American citizens to avoid large crowds or areas with increased police or military presence.

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9:15 p.m.

Hamas says relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem “breaks red lines.”

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the Palestinian Islamic militant group, said Tuesday that any decision by the Trump administration to recognize the city as Israel’s capital would be “igniting the spark of rage against the occupation.”

President Donald Trump has informed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas he intends to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. No timetable was given.

Trump is expected to make an announcement on Jerusalem Wednesday.

Palestinian factions have called for mass protests against such a move.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, home to sites sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians, in the 1967 war and considers the entire city its capital. Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

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8:30 p.m.

The U.N. says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opposes any unilateral action on Jerusalem that could undermine a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York on Tuesday that “we’ve always regarded Jerusalem as a final status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations by the two parties based on relevant Security Council resolutions.”

Dujarric said the United Nations is waiting to see an official announcement from President Donald Trump on whether he intends to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move Israel strongly supports and the Palestinians vehemently oppose.

Arab and Muslim countries have warned that such an announcement, or a U.S. declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, could harm fragile Mideast peace efforts.

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8:15 p.m.

The Palestinians have rejected a possible move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and warned it would have serious implications for American-led peace efforts.

Nabil Abu Rdeneh, spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, said Tuesday that moving the embassy would be “unacceptable” to the Palestinians.

He says: “If this happens, it will complicate things. It will put an obstacle to the peace process. Maybe it will be the end of the peace process.” He urged the U.S. to “backtrack” if it wants to push forward with peace efforts.

Abu Rdeneh spoke to reporters shortly after President Donald Trump called Abbas to discuss his “intention” to move the embassy. It remains unclear when such a move would take place.

The official Wafa news agency said Abbas called Russian President Vladimir Putin in hopes of rallying opposition to the expected move.

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