Political analysis: why Trump’s decision to move U.S embassy to Jerusalem is detramental to international policy
December 8, 2017
President Trump announced on Dec. 5 that the U.S. Embassy in Israel will move to Jerusalem. His announcement was immediately followed by frenzied criticism, not only by Palestinians and U.S. citizens, but the international community as well.
Before Trump’s decision, Arab leaders and the Arab League made their concerns vocal. On Monday, Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas, an organization that has been labeled by the United States as a “terrorist group”, and Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian autonomous government, met in an attempt to console threatened Palestinians. Other groups such as the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation and the Gulf Cooperation Council are in communication with the Palestinian Authority (PA) on the matter, reported Al Jazeera.
On Dec. 7, Saudi Arabia and the UAE released statements alluding to how Trump’s relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could spark new conflict in the region and undo decades of U.S. relations.
So why exactly is Trump’s decision so detrimental to U.S. Middle Eastern Policy?
Since its founding in 1948, Israel has been a constant battleground. Contested and unrecognized by its Arab neighbors, Israel’s biggest ally is the United States, adding fuel to the fire in a region frustrated by western influence. The Palestinians, the group initially living in the territory, were forced out of their homes.
Jerusalem is currently the capital of Palestine. The U.S. and the international community have avoided recognizing the city as the capital of Israel due to the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, according to CNN.
Though Israel received control of Jerusalem after the Six Day War in 1967, the majority of Palestinians live in East Jerusalem.
So how many countries have embassies in Jerusalem? Zero. No other country in the world is stationed the religious capital. They’ve avoided doing so due to the lack of a peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis.
Why move the embassy?
A sizable part of Trump’s campaign for President was the promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Since Israel’s creation in 1948, the U.S. has been their number one ally. Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital isn’t new news either – during his campaign for the presidency, Obama also argued for the recognition of the city.
The White House’s stance, though, overturns a half-century of international agreement on foreign policy regarding Israel’s capital.
Members of the right-wing Likud party such as Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu are among some of the only supporters of the United States’ new recognition.
But the global outcry in response to Trump’s decision has almost silenced any Eretz Yisrael supporters- those who believe Israel is the rightful homeland of all Jews. Diplomats, international officials and U.S. citizens are shocked and horrified by Trump’s actions.
King Abdullah II of Jordan, Israel’s neighbor to the southeast, tweeted, “What an exceptionally irresponsible and dangerous step by Mr. Trump that will destroy any remaining US credibility as a broker in the Middle East Peace Process and deal a severe blow to any hope for a JUST and lasting peace #Jerusalem.”
His response was followed by declarations from dozens of other foreign diplomats.
The Swedish Foreign Minister is quoted saying “[the change in embassy location is] obviously going to lead to massive effects and unease.”
Additionally, in an article by the Washington Post, French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly criticised Trump’s decision, distancing himself from the America’s new policy on Israel.
“[The move is] a regrettable decision that France does not approve of and goes against international law and all of the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council,” he said.
Aside from erasing any progress made between the Arab World and the Israelis, the relocation of the embassy could incite a wave of violence, which members from Hamas are potentially claiming as “the third intifada”, a recurrence of the violence in the past.
According to the Associated Press, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, the leader of the Arab League, urged the U.S. to dismiss their recognition of Jerusalem to quell waves of uprisings and “repercussions.”
These repercussions have already been acknowledged, specifically when Hamas leaders declared war against the United States.
Since Dec. 7, thousands of Palestinians have begun actively protesting in the streets of occupied territories, according to Al Jazeera.
There have already been several violent altercations between Palestinians and the Israeli Defense Force.
Haniyeh is already quoted calling on Palestinians for a third Intifada.
“The US decision is an aggression, a declaration of war on us, on the best Muslim and Christian shrines in the heart of Palestine, Jerusalem. We should work on launching an Intifada in the face of the Zionist enemy,” Haniya said in a report by Al Jazeera.
Trump’s announcement has done more than incite violence though. Palestinian representatives are now moving away from any diplomatic peace advances, particularly with American entities.
“I hope that the Palestinian Authority will not accept to meet with this American team any more,” Mustafa Barghouti, the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, told Al Jazeera correspondents.
One outcome seems to speak the loudest in this moment of international confusion: we’re as far away from peace in the region as we’ve ever been.