In a stunning departure from seven decades of United States foreign policy, U.S. President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced the government’s plan to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv.
“Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world. Over the past seven decades, the Israel people have built a country where Jews, Muslims, Christians and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and beliefs.”
Several world leaders condemned Trump’s decision.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May openly denounced the decision of the United States:
“We disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognize Jerusalem as the Israel capital before a final status agreement.”
Pope Francis also voiced his disapproval of the decision:
“My thoughts now go to Jerusalem. In this regard, I cannot keep silent about my deep concern over the situation that has arisen in recent days and at the same time, a heartfelt appeal so that everyone would be committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.”
French President Emmanuel Macron simply stated his nation’s position with a short statement, “France does not approve it.”
The United Nations unveiled its Partition Plan in 1947 which was to divide Jerusalem between the Jewish and Arab states. But Zionist forces took control of Western Jerusalem during the 1948 War and declared it part of the state’s territory.
At the end of the 1967 War, East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel, Syria, Egypt and Jordan. The occupation effectively put East Jerusalem under de facto control of Israel.
In 1980, Israel promulgated the “Jerusalem Law” which made a claim that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”
However Israel’s jurisdiction over Jerusalem was not recognized by the international community which at the time included the United States.
Jerusalem’s final status has been a point of contention in the Israel – Palestine conflict. Palestinians also claims Jerusalem as their country’s capital.
Trump’s decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem effectively and symbolically confirms Israel’s jurisdiction, ownership and sovereignty over the holy city.
As expected, the Israel loudly supported Trump’s decision to relocate the embassy. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believed recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem was an important step toward achieving peace with Palestine.
However Netanyahu’s Palestine counterpart does not see it that way.
President Mahmoud Abbas believes the decision to transfer the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would violate international law and prove to be a setback for the peace process. Abbas also fears Trump’s announcement would re-ignite extremism in the region.