At the onset of this month, Trump declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. I will admit to not being very well-versed in the historical aspects that affect this part of the world, so I visited the CNN newspage and clicked the article that I was sure would solve all my problems. It is entitled “Why declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel is so controversial.”
To summarize, it would first undo nearly a decades worth of diplomatic processes that have slowly nudged the Israeli-Palestinian conflict toward a peaceful solution, as well make foreign embassies a target for violent attacks in response to the news, according to one US State Department official. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been going on for nearly 100 years, and Jerusalem is the most sensitive aspect of this conflict, as both nations declare it as their capital–both with historical justification for doing so. For foreign policy officials, especially during the Obama administration, Jerusalem has always been the ‘final problem,’ and after years of negotiations, all the work has been undone by one rash move by Donald Trump.
Not only is simply declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel problematic for the Palestinians, but moving the US Embassy is an entirely different issue. It could be a simple thing, to move the capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem–especially considering that the US already has a consular outpost there. However, Trump has decided that an entirely new embassy will be built, which of course, is a logistical complication. Moreover, it invited Arabs and Palestinians to protest throughout the entirety of the construction project.
In respect to the international nature of the history of Israel–after all, several countries were party to the original declaration that gave Israel statehood–it is important to note that because of the conflict, no countries have embassies in Jerusalem, while nearly 86 have their embassies situated in Tel Aviv. Were the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem, it would be the only one.
The Israelis, of course, are quite pleased with this agreement–at least officially. The leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are applauding Trump. THe Palestinians, however, consider this declaration, and its potential enactment, a breach of international law, and a huge setback in regards to peaceful and permanent solutions to this dispute.Some Americans believe the the timing of the announcement was suspicious, and have posited that Trump made such an irresponsible decision to draw attention away from Robert Mueller’s investigation into his relationship with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. The rest of the international community has found it concerning, careless and rash, and the United Nations has condemned the decision 14 to 1.
Because this is such a sensitive issue with so many moving parts, it is important to keep an eye on both official and unofficial reactions in the days ahead.