Trump Administration Decision On Jerusalem Roils Middle East
President Donald Trump has roiled the Middle East with the announcement that the United States would formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Mr. Trump argued that acknowledging Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government was “the right thing to do” and “a long overdue step to advance the peace process.” The move drew a storm of criticism from Arab and European leaders.
Mr. Trump’s move set into motion a plan to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is one of the world’s most sensitive diplomatic issues. However, the issue has been overshadowed in recent years by other conflicts in the region.
Mr. Trump made a campaign pledge to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He appealed to evangelicals and pro-Israel American Jews by vowing to move the embassy. Advisers said he was determined to make good on his word and show his base that he can be trusted to deliver on promises.
Mr. Trump made no distinction between the western portions of the city and East Jerusalem. The president did ask for “calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate” in his speech at the White House. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government praised the announcement.
Palestinians view the decision as biased toward Israel. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator vehemently denounced the move, with Erekat calling for the abandonment of a two-state solution altogether. Mr. Abbas said in a televised speech that Mr. Trump’s actions “constitute a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts.”
Some Palestinian leaders urged a third intifada, or armed uprising. Palestinians burned photos of President Trump in Gaza. Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian factions called for a general strike and marches in every city. The United States Consulate General in Jerusalem barred American government employees and their families from visiting parts of Jerusalem for their safety and American citizens have been advised to avoid crowds.
According to the White House, the United States still wants a negotiated peace agreement between Palestine and Israel. Mr. Trump said that the U.S. “would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides.” The United States has long played the role of mediator of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians say Mr. Trump’s decision irrevocably harmed his administration’s ability to be seen as a fair broker in the matter.