President Donald Trump has, in a speech from the White House, acknowledged the new United States stance to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Further to the speech, Trump also ordered for plans to be drawn up to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested city.
“Today we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” Trump announced in his speech from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House. “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”
This decision breaks with the ongoing status quo that has continued over seven decades, since Israel’s founding in 1948. Trump reflected on Jerusalem as the rightful capital of Israel since “ancient times” and stated this decision would be fundamental in moving forward the dispute between Palestine and Israel in the hopes to achieve peace for both sides.
Although Trump stresses he wants a “great deal” for the Israelis and the Palestinians, and urged that the United States would support a two-state solution if both sides agreed to it, spectators are dubious.
As a response to Trump’s speech, outrage sparked across the Middle East. Many world leaders in the past, including the Pope, have voiced their disapproval on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This move to refuse to formally recognize Israel’s claim followed after the 1967 Middle East war when Israel captured and annexed the eastern sector.
The already-tense region is now a hot bed, with much opposition to Trump’s latest move. Palestinian officials have declared all peace talks over and have called the US decision a declaration of war. Both King Abdullah II of Jordan and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have denounced the actions as “dangerous” with massive repercussions for the future stability of the region.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan released a strong warning in a joint statement with King Abdullah; aimed at the United States recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Erdogan raised concerns on enabling terror groups in the area.
“This mistaken step… will lead to public outrage in the entire Islamic world, dynamite the ground for peace and ignite new tensions and clashes in our region,” Erdogan said, explaining this move provides fuel to extremism and “undermines the war against terrorism.”
Erdogan, who considers himself a champion of the Palestinian cause, is likely to denounce the US-Israel partnership further. Already, the Turkish government has declared this action as plunging the region into chaos and “a fire with no end in sight.”
Turkey, a NATO ally state, may also sever all diplomatic ties to the Jewish state, announced Erdogan, who has now called for an emergency summit to address the issue on December 13. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation will discuss the consequences of Jerusalem becoming the capital. The Council of the League of Arab States has also released a statement condemning Trump’s move and labelling it an act of aggression against the rights of Palestinians, Muslims and Christians.
Although Trump claims this move will assist in achieving peace in the region through forcing talks that may otherwise not happen, endorsing Israel’s sovereign claim over the Holy City risks boiling over into catastrophic and deadly violence for East Jerusalem’s citizens in particular.
Acknowledging the reigniting of more violence, the US State Department issued a strong warning to travellers and government employees, urging them to remain away from the West Bank and Jerusalem’s Old City, as well as any areas with a build up of military presence.