The quiet corner home to Israel’s American embassy remained peaceful Wednesday afternoon, a neighborhood just miles from where President Donald J. Trump upended decades of U.S. policy by recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
“Acknowledging this is a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace,” Mr. Trump said from the White House Wednesday. “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”
But the president stopped short of saying that a unified Jerusalem should serve as the capital city. Jerusalem is divided between east and west, with Israel seizing the East Jerusalem from Arab control in 1967.
“We are not taking a position of any final status issues including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders,” Trump said.
Observers and experts in Washington said Israel would not be able to exert total control of the city and expect peace. Palestinians would also need to govern at least part of the capital they claim as their own.
“Total Israeli control is absolutely out of the question,” said Omar Baddar, deputy director of the Arab American Institute. “It’s a complete fantasy to think the Palestinians would acquiesce to anything like that.”
Israel now maintains authority on both sides of the city, and ceding territory in the east has historically been a non-starter during peace talks.
“In the eastern part is the part that is most meaningful when it comes to religion,” said Boaz Atzili, an expert on Israeli affairs and professor at American University. “Think the Western Wall. Israelis were not allowed to enter before they controlled the eastern side in 1967.”
Trump said during the fate of Jerusalem now rests with the parties involved. Despite restive protests concerning plans to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, the president called for peace.
“In the meantime, I call on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites, including the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif.”