US President Donald Trump has fulfilled his campaign promise to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and begin plans to move the US embassy there. This decision has infuriated Muslims, Arabs, and Palestine sympathizers across the world, and resulted in many protests across the Middle East, as well as in Malaysia, Indonesia, and parts of Europe. The move has been rightly condemned on account of its unfairness to Palestinians, as well as its likelihood to inflame the region and cause bloodshed. Trump, however, has described it as “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality.” The decision has led to outbursts of anti-American and anti-Israel sentiment, including the chanting of slogans and burning and stomping on flags. Others have taken to mocking Trump on Twitter.
The Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called for a new Palestinian uprising against Israel. Protests have broken out in the West Bank, and Israel has boosted its security presence in the area. Several rockets were fired from Gaza, one of which hit the entrance of a kindergarten. Subsequently, Israel carried out a bombing expedition in Gaza which injured more than twenty Palestinians, including children. A Palestinian in Jerusalem stabbed an Israeli. Hundreds of Palestinian protesters have been injured, and two men were shot dead.
An emergency United Nations Security Council meeting was held in response to Trump’s decision, in which five European UNSC members strongly denounced the move, without taking further action.
Turkish President Erdogan has been particularly vocal. He warned before the move that it was a “red line” and would throw the region into a “ring of fire,” and he further threatened to cut off Turkey’s diplomatic ties with Israel. After the announcement of the decision, Erdogan described Israel as an “occupying state” and “terror state” that “kills children.” He and French President Macron jointly agreed to urge the US to reconsider its decision.
A meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (consisting of 57 member states with large Muslim populations) has been scheduled in Istanbul to discuss the issue. The Arab League (consisting of 22 Arab member states) condemned the decision as a violation of international law and announced its intention to seek a U.N. Security Council resolution rejecting the decision.
The parliament of Jordan has voted to review their peace treaty with Israel. However, any major foreign policy decisions will have to be approved by the King Abdullah II. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has cancelled his planned meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence. The Patriarch of the Coptic Church of Egypt has likewise announced that he will not be receiving Pence on his upcoming visit to Egypt.
Jerusalem is of great significance to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. Trump’s move has been ascribed by some to Evangelical motives. Whatever Trump’s intentions were, it can still be hoped that the different parties involved will incline towards peace and that the decision will not prevent productive negotiations from taking place.