(By Stephanie Freid) – US President Donald Trump declares Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – a highly controversial announcement. During his presidential campaign, Trump promised to move the US embassy from its current home in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But on Monday that decision was delayed for a second time since the businessman-turned-president was sworn into office.
What’s the big deal?
Jerusalem is a divided city – more than half a million Palestinians live there and say the city will serve as the future capital of a Palestinian state. Israel’s government, at the same time, says Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel.
Up to now, US administrations have steered clear of declaring anything status-wise when it comes to Jerusalem because the city’s status is seen as a key, final stage peace negotiation issue between Palestinians and Israelis.
That’s why there are no foreign embassies in Jerusalem, only consulates.
US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital negates the Palestinian position, say Palestinian leaders, threatens Israeli-Palestinian peace process prospects and could further destabilize an already turbulent region.
“Any American step related to the recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, or moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, represents a threat to the future of the peace process and is unacceptable for the Palestinians, Arabs and internationally,” said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Leaders of the Arab League, Jordan, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Hamas have warned the White House against the declaration – Hamas is threatening violence and Turkey’s Tayep Erdogan says his country will cut ties with Israel if Jerusalem is named capital.
Regional pundits and leaders predict violence on the streets of Palestine, Jerusalem and in Israel’s neighboring countries if the White House recognizes Jerusalem as the country’s capital.
Beyond being a divided city, Jerusalem is also home to the world’s holiest Christian, Jewish and Muslim sites. The Al Aqsa Mosque – Islam’s third holiest site – is situated within Jerusalem’s ancient walled city.
Why is there talk of a Trump administration announcement? Despite Trump’s repeated promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – also instilled with political implications for the same reasons cited above – he hasn’t made good on that promise.
The latest deadline to take a decision on the embassy move was December 4, but the White House held off the declaration. (CGTN.COM)
Editor’s note:Piece edited slightly having been first published two days before the declarartion.