President Donald Trump in a landmark move that many regard is unprecedented in United States history has pushed through with his campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. The decision to re-locate the embassy confirms President Trump’s view that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
The US Embassy was opened by Trump’s daughter Ivana and husband Jared Kushner on Monday. Tension has reached a crescendo as demonstrations erupted near the border of Israel which killed an estimated 52 Palestinians and injured 1,000 more. The demonstrations have been going on for weeks and have highlighted the controversy regarding the U.S. embassy’s move to Jerusalem.
Pro-Israel activists hailed the decision but it has caused anger and frustration among Palestinians and other Arab allies of the United States.
And what does the President think? Days ahead of the opening, President Trump tweeted:
“It’s a great day for Israel.”
Pastor John Hagee who is the founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church said evangelicals were looking forward to the day the President would fulfil his campaign promise to re-locate the embassy to Jerusalem:
“I can assure you that 60 million evangelicals are watching this promise close because if President Trump moves the embassy into Jerusalem he will historically step into immortality. He will be remembered for thousands of years for his act of courage to treat Israel like we already treat other nations.”
Until 2017, the United States did not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Historically, it is claimed by both the Palestinians and Israelis. For years, the United States maintained its embassy in Tel Aviv like other international countries.
Dylan Williams, Vice-President of Government Affairs for J Street said the move could damage the reputation of the U.S. as an impartial negotiator in the Middle East peace process:
“Even seemingly minor changes of Jerusalem’s status quo; either in fact or in law, have historically had the impact of sparking violence.”
However, President Trump is not the first President to consider moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv. Past presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush likewise thought of the same idea.
In fact, in 1995 U.S. Congress approved the budget for relocating the embassy to Jerusalem by 1999. The plan to re-locate the embassy did not push through because the incumbent President did not want to impede the peace process.
Among the countries that will attend the gala in support of the move to Jerusalem include: Albania, Angola, Austria, Cameroon, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Kenya, Macedonia, Burma, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Rwanda, Serbia, South Sudan, Thailand, Ukraine, Vietnam, Paraguay, Tanzania and Zambia.