For decades, world powers—including the United States—have refrained from taking sides in this dispute by locating their embassies in Tel Aviv and avoiding any reference to Jerusalem as a part of Israel. But just earlier on Wednesday, President Donald Trump perceived Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced plans to relocate the US Embassy there. The President then stated that he is ordering the State Department “to begin preparations to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” A move expected to ignite tensions in the region and unsettle the anticipations for peace.
Even though Trump took uncharacteristic caution in how he worded his speech, the damage may already be done and this is a consequence of the leaked out announcement several days earlier which immediately sparked fury and rage in much of the Arab world. Despite warnings from Arab, Muslim and Western allies, the US President instructed the State Department to begin the process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.
Demonstrations had already broken out in the Gaza Strip and a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut before Trump even spoke. People in Hamas reacted to what happened and said that Trump’s decision on Jerusalem will not succeed in changing the fact that Jerusalem is an Arab Muslim land.
In his announcement from White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room, Trump said: “I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” He then added, “After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.”
In calls with Trump on Tuesday, Arab leaders in the region and French President Emmanuel Macron expressed deep misgivings and apprehensions about Trump’s move and urged him to reconsider.The president then said that the US remained pledged to a two-state solution, and insisted that he was not dictating how much of Jerusalem should constitute Israel’s capital – leaving open the possibility that East Jerusalem would be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
“The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement.”
French president Emmanuel Macron said: “This decision is a regrettable decision that France does not approve of and goes against international law and all the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council.” The move was also condemned by US allies Turkey and Egypt. Khamenei, who is stridently anti-Israel, told government officials: “Victory belongs to Islamic Ummah. Palestine will be free, the Palestinian nation will achieve victory.”
Also, a Palestinian envoy said Trump’s decision was a declaration of war in the Middle East while Pope Francis called for Jerusalem’s status quo to be respected, saying new tension would further inflame world conflicts
On the other hand, Israel’s government rushed to congratulate Trump for the speech, which prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as an “important step toward peace.” In addition, President Reuven Rivlin said: “The recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the relocation of all embassies to the city, is a landmark in the recognition of the right of the Jewish people to our land, and a milestone on our road to peace – peace for all the residents of Jerusalem, and the whole region”.
Jerusalem is a divided city with a long and bloody history of conflict, and considering the ongoing crisis surrounding the Arab world, Trump is lightening things up with more fire.