“Today we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.”
Eleven words was all it took to spark protests and violence in Jerusalem, as last week, Donald Trump recognised the city as Israel’s capital. Reversing decades of US neutrality on the Israel-Palestine conflict on Jerusalem, the US President’s words have threatened to spark massive unrest in the Middle East.
Both Palestinians and Israelis claim Jerusalem as their capital, as the city contains sites sacred to both Jews and Muslims. The Israeli government currently resides in ‘West Jerusalem’ – the part in which they have controlled since 1949. In 1967, they captured and annexed East Jerusalem, a move in which has not been recognised as legal by the UN.
Trump’s words recognise Israel’s takeover of East Jerusalem, whilst the international community have always viewed it as occupied territory. Whilst the President states that America “would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides,” it seems that may be out of the question. In a statement, Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary- General, Saeb Erekat, stated that the President has “destroyed any possibility of a two-state (solution).
The President has also announced the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv, to Jerusalem.
The Israeli government praised Trump’s speech, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it an “important step towards peace.” However, Hamas, the Islamist Extremist group that controls the Gaza strip, has said that Trump’s decision on Jerusalem has “opened the gates of hell.”
His speech last Wednesday has initiated violence in Jerusalem, with four people dying as a result.
Israeli forces clashed with young Palestinians in street battles last Wednesday, after Trump’s speech. Around 50 Palestinians suffered minor injuries during the clashes across the West Bank cities of
Ramallah and Bethlehem. Israeli troops fired teargas and rubber bullets in response to hurled stones and tyres being set alight. It is believed that wafts of smoke rose among Bethlehem’s Christmas decorations during the fights.
Thursday evening saw two rockets fired from Gaza, but both had crashed before reaching Israel, according to The Israeli Defence Forces. Whilst hundreds of protestors in the West Bank have taken to the streets, protestors in Gaza have been burning posters of Donald Trump.
Palestinian leaders have warned that Trump’s words have hindered the peace process, whilst his words have met criticism with world leaders, including France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Jordan.
UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, released a statement: “We disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement. We believe it is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region. The British Embassy to Israel is based in Tel Aviv and we have no plans to move it.
“Our position on the status of Jerusalem is clear and long-standing: it should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states. In line with relevant Security Council Resolutions, we regard East Jerusalem as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
Linguistic choice is vital in this case, for fear of sparking violence – which it did. However, it hasn’t caused massive unrest in the Middle East as world leaders had anticipated.
In his speech, he doesn’t call Jerusalem “undivided,” which leaves the door
open to negotiating splitting Jerusalem up between the Israelis and Palestinians,
but the main issue would be the Old City, where the three sacred religious sites are
Much to the criticism of Palestinian leaders, Hamas’ leader has called for a “new intifada,” an Arabic word for “uprising.”
Stay tuned for developments on the Jerusalem protests at www.evademagazine.com