US President Donald Trump’s ‘vision’ is not difficult to predict. He takes odd stands which can be against global opinion. Normally, the position of the US, being a global leader, must be with the saner voices of the international community. But, Trump is different. He loves to remain in the news, not always for good reasons. Again, he has done it. Trump has recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and decided to shift US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Thus, he departed from the nearly 70-year-old US foreign policy. As expected, it has generated a huge controversy and many countries including nations from Middle East has criticised the US decision.
In his election campaign, Trump had promised voters that he will shift US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The US has a consulate in Jerusalem. But, embassy is a different thing. It will take at least three years for an embassy to resume its work from Jerusalem. In a short speech delivered at the White House on the issue on December 6, Trump said, “I have determined that it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” He also criticised earlier US presidents by saying, “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, but they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.” His announcement indicates the beginning of a new approach towards Israel and Palestine conflict. The move will affect US interest across the world.
Trump said, “Consistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers, and planners so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.”
For years, the US policy was to not declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel till peace deal between Israel and Palestine becomes a reality. It was believed that any unilateral decision by US will affect international consensus and peace deal will become impossible to achieve. In Pakistan, demonstrations were held in various cities on Friday against the US decision. The reaction also indicates that the peace dialogue between Israel and Palestine will also be delayed. The best and viable solution is a two-state theory. The two-state solution envisages an independent State of Palestine and the State of Israel.
Muslim world and many allied nations criticised Trump’s decision. India responded with mild words by saying, “India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country.” French President Emmanuel Macron told Trump over the phone that Jerusalem’s status must be decided in peace talks between Israel and Palestine.
India’s traditional friend Palestine’s leaders are not happy with India’s mild statement. Palestinians feel India must make its position clear on Jerusalem. Normally, India refers East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestine state because it is part of the 1967 occupied land. Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their own future Palestine state. This way the US has indirectly recognised Israel’s claim of the whole of Jerusalem. Though Trump did not rule out a division of Jerusalem in the future. The fact is Jerusalem is the home of the Israeli government and parliament Knesset. Netanyahu is a close ally of Trump and US decision is a political gift.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, thanked Trump and described it as an ‘Important step towards peace.’ Mahmoud Abbas, President of the state of Palestine and Palestinian National Authority, said that the US has effectively abdicated its role as a mediator in the region. Fatah and Hamas, both leading Palestinian factions, criticised the US move. The Muslim world is furious with Trump administration’s decision. US Embassies in Turkey, Jordan, etc have issued security alerts to their citizens before visiting these countries.
Jerusalem is considered as a holy city for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Jerusalem includes the holiest ground in Judaism. The third holiest shrine in Islam and major Christian sites linked to the life of Jesus.
Israel became a reality in May 1948 but proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950 but the international community does not recognise it as such. US, India and around 85 countries have their embassies in Israel’s financial capital Tel Aviv. As of today, no country has embassy in Jerusalem.
The Jewish lobby had supported Trump in a big way in the presidential elections. Trump’s regime has already taken a couple of controversial decisions and this decision can have a volatile effect.