December 6, 2017
On December 6th, President Trump announced that the US formally recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and will begin the process of moving its embassy, which is currently based in Tel Aviv. The announcement was identified as a “new approach” for finding Trump’s promised “ultimate deal” for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While West Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Israel, East Jerusalem is considered to be occupied territory by most of the world, and is often envisioned as the eventual capital of a future Palestinian state. East Jerusalem is also home to both Jewish and Muslim holy sites, including the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as over 300 thousand Palestinians. Other countries avoid provoking conflict by basing their embassies in Tel Aviv. The policy change has aroused ire from much of the Muslim world, with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation announcing that they will no longer accept US help in the peace process. Rallies protesting the move have been attended by thousands in Jakarta, Indonesia; Ankara, Turkey; and Karachi, Pakistan. Several Palestinian protesters have been killed in clashes with the Israeli Defence Force. Even two of Trump’s favorite heads of state, Putin and Erdogan, have criticized his decision. A UN resolution declaring the move to be legally void – supported by the other 14 members of the Security Council – was vetoed by the US.
The transition towards recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is actually the culmination of a bill passed over twenty years ago. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which received bipartisan support, directed the embassy to be relocated no later than 1999. Clinton, and every successive president until now, have elected to sign bi-yearly national security waivers to keep the embassy in place. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is leading the administration’s peace efforts, even convinced the President to do the same earlier this year. This tradition has allowed the United States to keep up appearances as a neutral mediator of the conflict. Trump’s decision reinforces the belief held by many Palestinians – that the United States is solely concerned with ensuring the goals of the state of Israel. This could have a permanent destructive effect on the possibility of ever finding peace between the two embattled groups.
- Learn about one martyred Palestinian activist: Ibrahim Abu Thurayyah was a renowned activist who was killed by an IDF sniper during recent protests. Al-Jazeera has more details on his story and message.
- Check out J-Street: J-Street is a pro-Israel organization working to find a peaceful, humane solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You can learn more about their positions on their website.
- Donate to the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights: The USCPR is an organization founded in 2001 with the mission of shifting US policy towards recognizing the human rights of Palestinians. You can donate on their website.
This brief was compiled by Colin Shanley. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.