The Trump administration decided to move forward in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel despite warnings from his closest officials.
Both Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson disapproved of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the official U.S. embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds.
On Wednesday, Trump made the controversial announcement that immediately sparked protests in Palestine, including Gaza where nearly 250,000 protesters showed up to demonstrate against Trump’s overreach.
“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis opposed the move from Tel Aviv,” said a Reuters report citing anonymous officials.
Vice President Mike Pence and the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, had apparently “pushed hard for both recognition and embassy relocation.”
The president, whose son-in-law has investments in illegal Israeli settlements, had allegedly turned towards members of his team who are more brazen in their support for Israel to make the decision.
“In making his decision, Trump overruled more cautious counsel from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis, who expressed concern about endangering US diplomats and troops in Muslim countries,” AP reports.
Trump’s official statement seemed to acknowledge this internal disagreement by saying that "there will of course be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement,” but optimistically assessed that “we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a place of greater understanding and cooperation."
International dissent in the Muslim world has been apparent as nearly every country in the Middle East region has condemned the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
"Moving the U.S. embassy is a dangerous step that provokes the feelings of Muslims around the world," said Saudi Arabia’s King Salman during a phone call with Trump.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told his U.S. counterpart "not to complicate the situation in the region by taking measures that jeopardize the chances of peace in the Middle East."
This move comes amid a time of apparent Palestinian unity as the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, and the Palestinian National Liberation Movement, Fatah, had previously announced an end to a longtime feud. The two groups also approved an upcoming election.