US President Donald Trump is expected formally to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in a speech this evening despite strong reaction from the Arab world.
But he is likely to delay the implementation of his campaign pledge to relocate the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, although he is expected to reiterate his support for the move.
Mr Trump is due to speak at 6pm UK time.
While Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital, other countries have withheld recognition since the 1947 United Nations partition plan envisaged an international status for the city.
Jerusalem: "Our position has not changed" says UK PM Theresa May when asked about Donald Trump's expected recognition of the city as Israel's capital #PMQs https://t.co/hx0xTuBNjh pic.twitter.com/61wN4s7fe7— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) December 6, 2017
Successive Israeli governments have also been unable to persuade the international community to recognise its sovereignty over the east of the city following its capture 50 years ago in the Six-Day War.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud warned Mr Trump that any change would “constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims all over the world”.
Pope Francis has reportedly urged caution, calling for the status quo over the city to be respected.
According to Bloomberg, White House officials have said any move of the embassy would take years to complete.