Many diplomacy experts who have been dealing with the Israel/Palestine conflict for decades, religious leaders may they be Christians or Muslims or Jews, and practically all political leaders of the international community have been united in warning President Trump that officially recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital by moving the US embassy there:
– would incite anger and hatred between the opposing groups
– strengthen radicals on all sides
– lessen incentives for Israelis to negotiate with peaceful Palestinians to reach an agreement
– make the already vulnerable 37% of Jerusalem’s inhabitants who are Palestinians even more vulnerable,
– piss of Turkey and possibly evoke an end to diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel
– piss of the Saudis for endangering Riyadh’s efforts in brokering a peace deal
– piss of Israel’s neighbors Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and the Lebanon who have all warned Trump not to go ahead with the move
– and most importantly, make a peaceful solution infinitely more difficult to accomplish.
Palestinians are seeing that there is even smaller hope for their own sovereign state with the US so blatantly backing the Israeli government, that diplomatic efforts have not helped furthering their interests and are most rationally to believe that the US is siding with those who want to deepen the Palestinians’ oppression in the region. A majority of Palestinians want peace and are tired of violence, but this move will signal to many of them that there is “little alternative to direct action”.
Who is happy with the move? What purpose does it possibly serve? Ever since capturing and annexing Jerusalem in 1967 in the six-day war, the Israeli government has pushed for the recognition of Jerusalem as its capital. The international community has rejected this request as it would also mean to legitimize the unlawful settlement of Israelis living in East Jerusalem as well as the unlawful annexation of Jerusalem, which is considered illegal under international law.
The Israeli government, the illegal settlers in East Jerusalem, as well as Zionist nationalists, several Jewish-American and some far-right groups in the US, including some right-wing evangelicals, part of Trump’s voting base, are celebrating Donald Trump now. It strengthens nationalist Israelis, it strengthens Donald Trump’s standing with his base, and it strengthens Muslims and Arabs in the region calling to end diplomatic efforts and take violent action. The chaos and disruption in the region weakens it, thereby making it more vulnerable to foreign control. It also strengthens terrorist groups taking advantage of the anti-American sentiments this move will and already has provoked.
Pope Francis explicitly advised against it and Patriarch Theophilos III, “widely seen as the most senior Christian figure in Jerusalem,” together with a dozen other Christian leaders wrote a letter to Trump last Wednesday and warned him of “irreparable harm”, urging that it:
“will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division” and expressed worry about protecting Christian sites in the region.
The Reform Jewish Movement spanning around 900 Jewish congregations in the US, has said that while supporting the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in general, it would have to happen at the right time and “without a comprehensive peace plan,… it cannot support the president’s decision to move the embassy now.”
Amid these profound warnings, President Trump went ahead and announced the move anyway. What followed immediately after his announcement is a very unfortunate confirmation of the warnings that were issued.
Peace-loving, moderate Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians, have been weakened in their negotiation power. People who are already vulnerable to domination have been made more vulnerable. A peaceful resolution has been made even more difficult to reach, multiple diplomatic relationships have been damaged. As terribly sad as it is to predict, this death will not be the only one following from the US governments’ move that the international community, including all European leaders, have condemned.
If I were religious, I’d be praying for the sake of everybody’s safety that Donald Trump gets removed from power as quickly as tomorrow. I am not and all I can do is to research, to write, to protest, to donate to organizations who can do more. I am heartbroken and deeply worried as to what else will have to happen with Donald Trump in power before the United States corrects the mistakes that led to his rise and starts apologizing to the world for the damage it has caused.
(To read up on my sources for the quotes and facts check out these extremely helpful maps by BBC news, tracing the recent history of the conflict: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/middle_east/03/v3_israel_palestinians/maps/html/1967_and_now.stm; this great article by the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/06/us-recognition-of-jerusalem-as-israel-capital-what-it-means; this piece by NPR: https://www.npr.org/2017/12/07/569011845/trumps-jerusalem-decision-engenders-breadth-of-reaction-from-religious-leaders; and this little podcast episode from the New York Times’ “The Daily” from Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, which you can listen to for free here: https://www.nytimes.com/podcasts/the-daily?_r=0.)