Jerusalem, part of the Ottoman Empire since 1517, consisted only of the Old City and a few buildings outside the walls. Since the latter part of the 19th century its population had been majority Jewish for perhaps the first time in over a thousand years.
A few days ago President Trump rightfully extended United States recognition to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, recognizing the reality of the past seventy years. Contrary to many predictions, the American announcement has not triggered widespread outrage in the Muslim world.
The context of the President's announcement is better understood in the context of one of the final actions of President Obama's administration. In a small and spiteful act, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry maneuvered the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which effectively denied Jewish rights to East Jerusalem, including the walled city, the Jewish Quarter and to Judaism's holiest sites, and allowing the Palestinians in adding yet another set of unreasonable demands to any future peace negotiations.
In contrast, President Trump formally fulfilled the provisions of a 1995 law, passed by Congress by a 93-5 vote and signed by President Clinton, declaring “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.” Since then presidents have signed waivers every six months deferring action on the law.
The United States Senate reaffirmed the law just six months ago by a unanimous vote. The co-sponsor was New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer who, two months ago, attacked President Trump for not keeping his campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem:
“This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, yet with 2018 fast approaching, the U.S. still hasn't moved the embassy or made clear its commitment to Israel's capital…President Trump's recent comments suggest his indecisiveness on the embassy's relocation. As someone who strongly believes that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel, I am calling for the U.S. Embassy in Israel to be relocated to Jerusalem. Moving the embassy as soon as possible would appropriately commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Jerusalem's reunification and show the world that the U.S. definitively acknowledges Jerusalem as Israel's capital.”In taking this bipartisan action the President was more circumspect and diplomatic than Senator Schumer. The Senator supports an undivided Jerusalem, while the President was careful to say that his action involved no predetermination of the ultimate boundary of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.