President Trump, in a move widely condemned by the international community, has announced that the United States will officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This decision has been met with a wave of disapproval from adversaries and allies across the globe.
Trump has approved the move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which makes the United States the first country to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Jerusalem is a city with a long history of conflict, running all the way back to the Crusades nearly a millennium ago. Currently, Israel is the only country that recognizes Jerusalem as its official capital, as it occupies the western half of the city. All foreign embassies are currently in Tel Aviv.
East Jerusalem is the major point of contention for many amongst the international community. Israel annexed the eastern half of the city from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War. In 1993, as part of the Oslo Peace Accords, the final status of the city was meant to be discussed later.
Palestinian representatives have told the BBC that the changes to US policy of Jerusalem spell a “kiss of death” for the two-state solution peace process.
Some worry that the American recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital could validate Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which some have said violate international law as they are in Palestinian territory. This would also compromise America’s position as an honest and fair peace broker.
The United Nations has reiterated its position that to achieve lasting peace in the region, a two-state solution is necessary, with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, and the city declared an international city under jurisdiction of the UN. East Jerusalem is home to 330,000 Palestinians, as well as some of the most sensitive sites in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
Israeli reaction has been positive. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that “[Israel’s] historical national identity is receiving important expressions everyday”, as he and President Trump have a better relationship than his predecessor, former President Barack Obama.
In a speech outlining the shift in American policy, President Trump noted “We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past”. No timetable has been set for the move.
Canadian policy has not changed as its embassy will stay in Tel Aviv. The Canadian government’s policy on Jerusalem has not changed either, noting that the city’s status can only be determined as part of the peace process.
Countries and organizations around the world have expressed concern about the move, including Palestine, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Arab League, Iran, Jordan, the Vatican, the European Union, Russia, the United Kingdom, China, and Lebanon.