Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Sunday told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that if elected, the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the campaign said, marking a potential dramatic shift in U.S. policy on the issue, according to Reuters.
During the meeting that lasted more than an hour at Trump Tower in New York, Trump told Netanyahu that under his administration, the United States would “recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.”
The pair also discussed “at length” Israel’s use of a security fence to help secure its borders. Trump has proposed building a wall along the length of the southern border to keep out people and illegal drugs and often points to Israel as an example of how such barricades can be successful.
Trump also vowed “extraordinary strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries” if he’s elected.
Netanyahu’s office issued a statement saying that Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner also participated in the meeting.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu presented to Mr. Trump Israel’s positions on regional affairs related to Israel’s security and efforts to reach peace and stability in our region,” said the statement. “Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked Mr. Trump for his friendship and support of Israel.
The one-on-one discussions follow what was likely Netanyahu’s final meeting with Obama last week, capping what has been a sometimes rocky relationship between the leaders of the two ally countries.
The Obama administration has opposed Israel’s push to expand settlements in the West Bank while Netanyahu has been a leading critic of the US nuclear agreement with Iran. More recently, Netanyahu has urged Obama to avoid pushing for a Palestinian state in his final months in office.
“Mr. Trump acknowledged that Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish People for over 3000 years, and that the United States, under a Trump administration, will finally accept the long-standing Congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel,” the campaign said.
That promise has been made in various forms since at least 1992. Congress three years later passed a law calling for the US embassy to be moved to Jerusalem by 1999, but presidents of both parties always have waived the requirement. George W. Bush promised in 2000 to start the move “as soon as I take office,” then didn’t.
While Israel calls Jerusalem its capital, few other countries accept that, including the United States. Most nations maintain embassies in Tel Aviv.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in a 1967 war, as capital of the state they aim to establish alongside Israel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
During the closed-door meeting, the campaign said that Trump agreed with Netanyahu that peace in the Middle East could only be achieved when “the Palestinians renounce hatred and violence and accept Israel as a Jewish State.”
According to a readout of the meeting from the campaign, the two discussed “at length” Israel’s border fence, cited by Trump in reference to his own controversial immigration policies, which include building a wall on the U.S.- Mexico border and temporarily banning Muslims from entering the country.
Other regional issues, including the fight against Islamic State, U.S. military assistance to Israel — “an excellent investment” — and the Iran nuclear deal, which both parties have criticized, were also discussed.