US President Donald Trump fulfills his campaign promise and will move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The move has drawn strong criticism from the international community.
Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the city of Jerusalem is divided. Between the Israeli-controlled western region and the East which is under the auspices of the Jordanian-Arab alliance.
The city of Jerusalem is officially under the auspices of the United Nations. But in 1950, the Israeli parliament unilaterally declared the city of Jerusalem the capital of the country. Why is the status of the city of Jerusalem so sensitive in the Middle East conflict resolution effort?
In the six-day war of 1967, Israel captured eastern Jerusalem and declared it a region. But the annexation did not get international recognition. The international community of the majority said that the final status of Jerusalem must be resolved through negotiations. Currently, no country has opened the Embassy in Jerusalem. Greece, UK and US opened consulate offices.
Jerusalem has an important symbolic significance for Jews, Christians and Muslims, especially in the hilltop compound that houses the Jewish and Muslim holy places. The complex is known as the Mount of Olives and is considered the holiest site in Judaism. There is also Al Aqsa Mosque, the third most important sanctuary for Muslims (after Mecca and Medina) and the iconic Shakhrah (Dome of the Rock).
Why did Trump move US Embassy to Jerusalem?
In 1995, the United States imposed a law on the status of Jerusalem and the existence of its Embassy called the Jerusalem Embassy Act. The law states that the US must recognize Yerusalaem as the capital of Israel and the US Embassy should be moved to the city.
In practice, the US government before this, never run the law. Instead, every US president signs a presidential decree, stating that the US Embassy will remain in Tel Aviv. The decree is valid for six months, and every time it needs to be updated. Last June, President Donald Trump also signed such a decision. The term ends this December.
During the presidential election campaign, Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted he will move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Because according to him Jerusalem is the real capital of Israel. So, with this step Trump fulfills his campaign promise.
What is the impact of the decision?
Actually, not much will change. Currently, the office and official residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Jerusalem. The Israeli parliament is based in Jerusalem, as are the Supreme Court and the Foreign Ministry. World leaders visiting Israel are always on a trip to Jerusalem to meet with top Israeli officials.
For its inhabitants, Jerusalem is an open city, where Jews and Palestinians can move freely. Despite the fact that the interaction between the two sides is minimal and there is a big difference between the rich Jewish neighborhood and the poor Palestinians.
But the declaration of the transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Yerusalaem will have a deep symbolic meaning and further complicate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
How is international reaction?
The Palestinian Authority has warned that changing the status of Jerusalem will mean the end of the peace effort. The Palestinian Authority says it does not want violence to break out again. But it is hard to avoid if the US president persists in carrying out his decision.
The EU, Germany and France have also urged Donald Trump not to take any hasty measures to change the Jerusalem quo quo. The 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation, OIC, said changing Jerusalem's status was "bare aggression" against the Arab and Muslim worlds.
The Arab League Organsation declared that this move would be "dangerous acts that would be bad" across the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, a key ally of the United States, has also reacted strongly against Donald Trump's move.
Germany warned its citizens to visit Jerusalem or were there to be vigilant and avoid the eastern area as far as possible, as it is expected to break out of the latest violence and violence.