Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital: 'Today, I am delivering'

WASHINGTON/JERUSALEM, Dec 6 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump reversed decades of U.S. policy on Wednesday and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in defiance of warnings from around the world that the gesture risks creating further unrest in the Middle East.

In a speech at the White House, Trump said his administration would begin a process of moving the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is expected to take years.

The status of Jerusalem -- home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions -- is one of the thorniest obstacles to reaching a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

RELATED: President Trump's visit to Israel

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President Donald Trump visits Israel
US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and his wife Sara await U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump's arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), his wife Sara (2nd L) and David Friedman (3rd L), the new United States Ambassador to Israel, await U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump's arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Members of honor guard in formation wait to begin the welcoming ceremony for U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump's departure from Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Members of honor guard in formation wait to begin the welcoming ceremony for U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump's departure from Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife Sara upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (L) welcomes US President Donald Trump (C) and First Lady Melania Trump (R) as they take part in a welcome ceremony upon their arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017, during part of his first trip overseas. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (L) welcomes US President Donald Trump (C) during a welcome ceremony upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017, as part of his first trip overseas. / AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd L) walks with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin (R) upon his arrival aboard Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd L) and first lady Melania Trump (3rd L) walk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd R), his wife Sara (R) and David Friedman (Center back), the new United States Ambassador to Israel, upon their arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and US President Donald Trump speak upon the latter's arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017, as part of his first trip overseas. / AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) sits next to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Israel'sPresident Reuven Rivlin during a welcoming ceremony to welcome Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) shakes hands with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin as Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ( R) claps hands during a welcoming ceremony to welcome Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US President Donald Trump speaks during a welcome ceremony upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017, as part of his first trip overseas. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (C) gives a speech during a welcome ceremony upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017, as part of his first trip overseas. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump (seated, L) chats wife Sara Netanyahu (seated, front) as U.S. President Donald Trump (C) chats to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) during a welcoming ceremony to welcome Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump (6th R) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (5th R) upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. first lady Melania Trump attends a welcoming ceremony upon her arrival together with U.S. President Donald Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Members of the Israeli security forces patrol the area near the King David Hotel where U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to stay during his visit, in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Avishag Shar-Yashuv
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men walk on a pavement as members of the media and Israeli security forces work nearby, in the area near the King David Hotel where U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to stay during his visit, in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Avishag Shar-Yashuv
Security guards patrol near Israeli and American flags as they wait for the expected arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump (2ndL) looks at his wife Melania signing a guest book as Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (3rd L) and his wife Nechama (R) stand nearby at Rivlin's residence in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Noam Moskowitz
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd L) shakes hands, after signing the guest book, with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (2nd R) with his wife Nechama Reuven (R) and first lady Melania Trump (L), in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Noam Moskowitz
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) sits next to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin during their meeting in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Israeli President Reuben Rivlin (L) gestures as he sits next to U.S. President Donald Trump during their meeting at Rivlin� residence in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd L) signs the guest book, with first lady Melania Trump (L), Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (2nd R) his wife Nechama Reuven (R) in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Noam Moskowitz
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during his meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at Rivlin?s residence in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Atef Safadi/Pool
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a few remarks to reporters before his meeting with Israel� President Reuven Rivlin at Rivlin� residence in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump ( L) stands on a podium next to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump ( L) stands on a podium next to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US President Donald Trump listens to Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch (C) during a visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. On the left, Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) stands next to Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz at the plaza in front of the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN (Photo credit should read RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump, the daughter of US President Donald Trump, visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN (Photo credit should read RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump (L), the daughter of US President Donald Trump, is seen during a visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN (Photo credit should read RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump, the daughter of US President Donald Trump, is seen during a visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump, the daughter of US President Donald Trump, visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN (Photo credit should read RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (C) and First Lady Melania Trump (L) tour the garden of the residency of Israel's President Reuven Rivlin (R) in Jerusalem on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) stands next to Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz at the plaza in front of the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd R) walks with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin (R) to review troops during a welcome ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk in a procession to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting at the presidential headquarters in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas extends his hand to shake hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during a joint news conference at the presidential headquarters in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman
A still image taken from video shows U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania attending a ceremony commemorating the six million Jews killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust, in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. Government Press Office via REUTERS TV ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.
Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev presents U.S. President Donald Trump with a token of remembrance, an exact replica of the original Holocaust-era personal album that belonged to Ester Goldstein, who perished in the Holocaust, at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania lay a wreath during a ceremony commemorating the six million Jews killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust, in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump holds the hand of Holocaust survivor Margot Goldstein, as first lady Melania Trump walks towards them, at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate in a wreath-laying at the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania wave as they board Air Force One to travel to Rome from Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel May 23, 2017. REUTERS/
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"I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Trump said. "While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering."

Israel considers the city its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city's eastern sector, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed in a move never recognized internationally.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Trump's announcement as a "historic landmark" and urged other countries also to move their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem.

He said any peace deal with Palestinians must include Jerusalem as Israel's capital. This would be a non-starter for Palestinians if it means the entire city would be under Israeli control.

The Palestinians have said Trump's move would mean the "kiss of death" to the two-state solution, envisaging a Palestinian state in territory - the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem - that Israel took in 1967.

Ahead of Trump's announcement, Washington's allies in the region warned of dangerous repercussions.

Pope Francis called for Jerusalem's status quo to be respected, saying new tension would further inflame world conflicts. China and Russia expressed concern the plans could aggravate Middle East hostilities. A Palestinian envoy said the decision was a declaration of war in the Middle East.

Trump said his move is not intended to tip the scale in favor of Israel and that any deal involving the future of Jerusalem would have to be negotiated by the parties.

He said he remained committed to the two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians if they parties want one.

RELATED: President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

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President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu
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President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, speaks while Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli's prime minister, smiles during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. Netanyahu is trying to recalibrate ties with Israel's top ally after eight years of high-profile clashes with former President Barack Obama, in part over Israel's policies toward the Palestinians.

(Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves the White House after a meeting with President Donald Trump in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks during a news conference with Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli's prime minister, not pictured, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. Netanyahu is trying to recalibrate ties with Israel's top ally after eight years of high-profile clashes with former President Barack Obama, in part over Israel's policies toward the Palestinians.

(Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump (2ndR) and first lady Melania Trump meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara (L) in the Oval Office of White House in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Chief strategist to US President Donald Trump arrives for a joint press conference by Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House on February 15, 2017 in Washington, DC.

(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (L) and his wife Ivanka Trump talk with Sara Netanyahu (front L) as she arrives for a joint press conference between U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli's prime minister, speaks during a news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. Netanyahu is trying to recalibrate ties with Israel's top ally after eight years of high-profile clashes with former President Barack Obama, in part over Israel's policies toward the Palestinians.

(Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves following meetings with US President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC, February 15, 2017.

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump smiles outside the West Wing of the White House as Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, not pictured, departs in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. Netanyahu is trying to recalibrate ties with Israel's top ally after eight years of high-profile clashes with former President Barack Obama, in part over Israel's policies toward the Palestinians.

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway (2nd L) listens during a joint news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the East Room of the White House February 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump hosted Prime Minister Netanyahu for talks for the first time since Trump took office on January 20.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer waits for the beginning of a joint news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the East Room of the White House February 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump hosted Prime Minister Netanyahu for talks for the first time since Trump took office on January 20.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, speaks with Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. Netanyahu is trying to recalibrate ties with Israel's top ally after eight years of high-profile clashes with former President Barack Obama, in part over Israel's policies toward the Palestinians.

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, waves while leaving the West Wing of the White House after meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. Netanyahu is trying to recalibrate ties with Israel's top ally after eight years of high-profile clashes with former President Barack Obama, in part over Israel's policies toward the Palestinians.

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture Directort Lonnie Bunch(2ndR), talks with first Lady Melania Trump and Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as they tour the Museum along with Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton, left, on February 15, 2017, in Washington, DC.

(MOLLY RILEY/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. first lady Melania Trump and Sara Netanyahu stand together during a visit to the African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

President Donald Trump addresses a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

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Amid warnings of potential unrest in the Middle East, the president called on the region to take his message calmly and with moderation.

"There will of course be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement—but we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a place of greater understanding and cooperation," Trump said.

His announcement fulfills a core pledge of his election campaign last year

Trump said his move reflected the reality of Jerusalem as the center of Jewish faith and the fact that the city is the seat of the Israeli government.

Trump's decision is likely to please his core supporters - Republican conservatives and evangelical Christians who comprise an important share of his political base.

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump's first year in office marked by controversy

He acted under a 1995 law that requires the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem. His predecessors, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, had consistently put off that decision to avoid inflaming tensions in the Middle East.

Trump signed a waiver delaying the embassy move from Tel Aviv since the United States does not have an embassy structure in Jerusalem to move into. A senior administration official said it could take three to four years to build one.

(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton, Matt Spetalnick and John Walcott in Washington and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations, Michael Nienaber in Berlin, Costas Pitas in London, Philip Pullella in Vatican City, Babak Dehghanpisheh in Beirut, Dmitry Solovyov in Moscow; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Alistair Bell)

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