Why this story matters:
politics, conflict, scandal
“Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious -- that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” Trump said in a speech announcing plans to eventually move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The move reversed decades of U.S. policy, which avoided declaring Jerusalem the Israeli capital in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
More than 86 countries have embassies in Israel, and all are located in Tel Aviv. In April, though, Russia declared West Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital, as noted in this story from The Times of Israel.
Trump’s move sparked international condemnation and protests across the Middle East -- one was killed and scores hurt when thousands of Palestinians demonstrated on a “day of rage” on December 8. Ismail Haniya, the leader of fundamentalist group Hamas, is calling for a third intifada, or uprising, against Israel.
I spoke to members of the Jerusalem diaspora in Israel and beyond, who criticized U.S. President Donald Trump and said the move disrupts the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
It is the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital, not the plan to move the embassy, that will affect the city the most, said 22-year-old Dawoud Zahran, a Palestinian and peace activist from Ramallah, West Bank.
Zahran now lives in Oxford, England, but is actively trying to promote peace in the region.
“For those of us working for a peaceful solution, this came as a slap across the face," he said.
A two-state solution foresees East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, and West Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
Of the 850,000 people who live in Jerusalem, 36% are Muslim and 61% are Jewish, according to the independent think-tank Jerusalem Institute in 2016.
From West Jerusalem, 26-year-old Meron Guttel, told me that people there "need to find a way to live together." His Palestinian friends were "hurt" by Trump's declaration, although Israelis like Guttel were pleased to hear it.
Trump’s statement was a “win-lose” situation, said Guttel, who is optimistic and wants respect and understanding in Jerusalem because he is tired of this “never-ending conflict.”
Details from the story:
- On Wednesday President Trump declared Jerusalem the Israeli capital, reversing decades of U.S. policy.
- Most people in the city want the two-state solution.
- A two-state solution foresees East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, and West Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
- Of the 850,000 people who live in Jerusalem, 36% are Muslim and 61% are Jewish, according to the independent think-tank Jerusalem Institute in 2016.
- Trump signed a waiver officially delaying the move of the embassy for six months.