Israel announced Sunday that it has formally declared Jerusalem the capital of the state of Israel, in a move that will be a significant milestone in the process of the final status of Jerusalem.
The announcement was made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, where the world body is convening in New York.
The move comes amid heightened tension between Israel and the Palestinians over Jerusalem and the West Bank, which are disputed territories that have been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war.
Israel declared Jerusalem its capital in a 1967 declaration that was rejected by the United States and the international community.
It has repeatedly denied any intention to build Jewish settlements there.
Netanyahu has said that Jerusalem should be divided in two, with the eastern part of the city, which includes the eastern half of the Old City, annexed by Israel, and the western part to be held as a future capital of a future independent Palestinian state.
The move to formally declare Jerusalem as the capital came after months of negotiations between the two sides.
Israel has long maintained that Jerusalem is its eternal and indivisible capital.
But Palestinians, who claim east Jerusalem as their capital, see it as part of their future capital.
The declaration is a major step toward establishing Jerusalem as a full and independent capital.
It comes on the heels of a string of U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Israeli settlements in the West of the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, which have been under threat by Israel’s building of settlements there and its military campaign in Gaza.
Netiv, a Jerusalem-based developer, said the move was a way to strengthen Israel’s position.
The announcement “is a great milestone for Jerusalem, for the city and for the entire region,” said a statement from the developer, which is controlled by Israeli-born American billionaire Daniel Loeb.
Netav, whose company, Loeb Properties, is a founding partner in the project, said he hoped to build 1,200 homes in the newly declared Jerusalem, with plans to expand into several other parts of the region.
Loeb said he was optimistic about the new declaration and that his firm would be “ready to do business in Jerusalem.”