Jerusalem is a city in the Middle East, and it is located on a plateau in the Judaean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea.
Israelis and Palestinians both claim Jerusalem as their capital, as the State of Israel maintains its primary governmental institutions there while the State of Palestine ultimately foresees the city as its seat of power; however, neither claim is widely recognized internationally.
Jerusalem is considered a holy city in the three major Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The holiness of Jerusalem in Christianity conserved in the Septuagint which Christians adopted as their own authority, was reinforced by the New Testament account of Jesus’s crucifixion there.
In Sunni Islam, Jerusalem is the third-holiest city, after Mecca and Medina. In Islamic tradition in 610 CE, it became the first Qibla, the focal point for Muslim prayer (salat), and Muhammad made his Night Journey there ten years later, ascending to heaven where he speaks to God, according to the Quran1.
Today, the status of Jerusalem remains one of the core issues in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
Since the 1980s, the city has hosted no foreign embassies. However, a Presidential order has been issued in the United States in early December 2017 to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
In a non-binding resolution voted at the United Nations General Assembly on 21 December 2017, eight countries supported the U.S. resolution to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, 128 disagreed, 35 abstained and 21 did not participate2.
Jerusalem as the capital of Israel
“It is time to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” President Donald Trump announces.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and said Jerusalem was ”the eternal capital of the State of Palestine.”3
Despite warnings of triggering further unrest in the Middle East, the US President has gone ahead and recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
Donald Trump says his team will begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
”It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result,” he announced.
”Therefore I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
”While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today I am delivering.
Donald Trump is fulfilling a pledge he made during the election campaign in 2016
Monumental shift in US policy
The announcement is a massive reversal of decades of U.S. policy.
A law passed in 1995 requires the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem but Presidents Bill Clinton, George W.Bush, and Barack Obama always put off that decision because of concern regarding inflaming tensions.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest issues between Israel and the Palestinians.
There has been a furious reaction from Palestinians and from many who see the move as likely to inflame tensions in the Middle East.
Donald Trump, however, insisted that his decision is a long overdue step to advance the peace process.
”It was 70 years ago that the U.S. recognized the State of Israel. Ever since then Israel has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem,” he said.
”There will, of course, be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement, but we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a place of greater understanding and cooperation.”5
Donald Trump also recognized that specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status talks.
He announced that he had ordered the State Department to develop a plan to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which experts say could take several years to complete.
At the end of his speech, Donald Trump was seen signing a waiver that delayed the embassy move for six months.
World leaders quick to react to decision
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the move as ”historic”.6
He urged other countries to follow suit by moving their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem.
But other heads of state have come out against Donald Trump’s decision, including the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.7
French President Emmanuel Macron Tweeted: ”On Jerusalem, France does not approve of the U.S. decision. France supports the solution of two states, Israel and Palestine, living in peace and security, with Jerusalem as the capital of the two states.”8
President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, condemned Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
He said that Donald Trump ”has destroyed his credibility as a Mideast peace broker,” and that his decision was a ”declaration of withdrawal from the role it has played in the peace process.”9
Abbas said the Palestinian leadership will meet in the coming days and consult with Arab leaders to formulate a response.
The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as their capital.
The European Union expressed ”serious concern” over Donald Trump’s decision and the impact it will have.10
Egypt’s foreign ministry denounced Donald Trump’s decision, calling it a ”violation of international resolutions on the city’s status.”11
The statement also said Egypt was extremely worried about the impact the U.S. decision could have on the region’s ”stability” and ”its extremely negative impact” on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
As mentioned previously, the U.S. decision to move their embassy to Jerusalem has met both backlash but also approval from around the world. The immediate effects of the decision were not as major as people first feared, but the long-term consequences may leave a larger mark on the entire region for the years to come.
When the decision was first announced, many Palestine citizens took to the streets in several major cities to show their anger and frustration over the U.S. decision which denies their claim on Jerusalem by stating that it is the capital of Israel. Violence also escalated around the border regions between Israel and Palestine.12
“You lit a candle of truth, You dispel the darkness. One defeated the many. Truth defeated lies.” – Benjamin Netanyahu13
Most world leaders except for a few such as Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the decision and distanced themselves further from the United States. The U.N held a meeting a few days after the announcement where the majority voted for the U.S. to rescind their decision on the matter, even allies of the U.S. Their argument being that this decision would only lead to more violence and further away from any type of peace agreement.
Experts believe that by the U.S. making decisions that are out of line with the policies of the U.N such as the embassy move will lead to further distance and worsened relationships with the U.S. Many do not believe that the U.S. can remain neutral in the peace process as they have chosen to side with Israel on the Jerusalem matter. 14
What most people fear will come as a long-term consequence of this decision is that peace between Israel and Palestine will be less achievable than they were before. The tensions between the two countries will most likely only increase over who holds claim over the holy city of Jerusalem.
Whether this decision will truly lead to any real long-lasting consequences for the region or whether the tension will die out is yet to be known, but the U.S. has shown where they stand in this conflict. What anyone and everyone can hope for is that peace may come to a region which has been plagued by tensions and conflict for decades.
To conclude whether the embassy move will have any major effects on the region is debatable, it may lead to further destabilization between the two countries and hinder any type of peace. On the other end, it may not have any long-lasting effects at all and the impact may not be noticeable to most people. What this will lead to is anyone’s guess but one thing that has become clear from this, and that is where the United States stands in the conflict…
Kearney, Seamus, “It is time to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”Euronews, 6 December. 2017.
“The Latest on President Donald Trump’s decision on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (all times EST).” Daily News, Washington (AP), 6 December. 2017.
Pazmino, Gloria, “In Jerusalem, Trump decision draws support – and warnings.”Politico, 6 December. 2017.
Shepp, Jonah, “Why is Trump intent on moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.” New York Magazine, 5 December. 2017.
Liebermann, Oren, “Why moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem is so controversial.”CNN, 6 December. 2017.
Schwartz, Michael and Gladstone, Rick, “U.S. vetoes U.N resolution condemning move to Jerusalem.” New York Times, 18 December. 2017.
Woodruff, Judy and Schifrin, Nick, “The long-term global consequences of Trump’s Jerusalem move.” PBS, 12 December. 2017.
“Palestinians slam U.S. veto on Jerusalem resolution.”, Al Jazeera, (19/12-2017)
- Quran 17:1, The Isra and Mi’raj (Arabic: الإسراء والمعراج , al-‘Isrā‘ wal-Mi’rāj) (https://quran.com/17 , https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem)
- Voting for moving United States embassy to Jerusalem, United Nations General Assembly 2017/12/21 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem)
- President Mahmoud Abbas (http://www.euronews.com/2017/12/06/president-donald-trump-to-declare-jerusalem-israel-s-capital- )
- President Donald Trump speech, White House 2017/12/06 (http://edition.cnn.com/videos/politics/2017/12/06/trump-jerusalem-remarks-full.cnn)
- President Donald Trump (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-president-trump-jerusalem/)
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (http://wapo.st/2jnUKHc ,https://twitter.com/IsraeliPM)
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel (https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-trump-israel-merkel/germany-against-trumps-jerusalem-decision-merkel-idUKKBN1E0308)
- French president Emmanuel Macron (https://twitter.com/EmmanuelMacron/status/938487208188792833)
- President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas (http://www.euronews.com/2017/12/06/president-donald-trump-to-declare-jerusalem-israel-s-capital- )
- President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas (https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/the-latest-abbas-says-trump-undercuts-mideast-credibility/articleshow/61954673.cms)
- European Union (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-israel-eu/eu-seriously-concerned-about-trumps-jerusalem-decision-idUSKBN1E02WE)
- Egypt’s foreign ministry (http://www.nydailynews.com/newswires/news/national/latest-trump-declares-jerusalem-israel-capital-article-1.3680648)
- U.S vetoes U.N resolution condemning move to Jerusalem (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/18/world/middleeast/jerusalem-un-security-council.html )
- Palestinians slam U.S. veto on Jerusalem resolution (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/palestinians-slam-veto-jerusalem-resolution-171219062410040.html)
Written by Oliver Ceder (Pre-IB) & Anita Falamaki (Pre-IB)