US President Donald Trump said in an interview published Friday that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was a “high point” of his first year in office, but that Israel will have to make “hard compromises for peace” in return.
Speaking to the Sheldon Adelson-owned Israel Hayom, Trump noted the December 6 recognition as a highlight.
“I think Jerusalem was a very big point. And I think it was a very important point. The capital, having Jerusalem be your great capital, was a very important thing to a lot of people,” said Trump according to an excerpt of the interview released Friday ahead of its full publication Sunday in the conservative Hebrew daily.
“I have been thanked and in some cases not thanked, to be 100% honest about it. But it was a very important pledge that I made and I fulfilled my pledge,” he said, noting that “the lobbying against it was tremendous.”
The move was hailed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Guatemala has since announced it will follow the US in moving its embassy to the city.
But the decision sparked protests in some countries and was rejected in a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution. Arab and Muslim leaders have railed against it and the Palestinians cut off contacts with the US, saying Washington could no longer be an “honest broker” in peace talks.
Trump later said that he had recognized Jerusalem in order to take the issue off the table, adding that he had planned for Israel “to pay” in future negotiations for his declaration.
Asked what he meant by this, Trump told the paper in the interview: “I wanted to make clear that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Regarding specific borders, I will grant my support to what the two sides agree between themselves.”
And asked if Israel will have to give something in return for the decision on Jerusalem, Trump said that “I think both sides will have to make hard compromises to reach a peace agreement.” He did not elaborate.