Saudi Arabia described the decision as inexplicable, irresponsible and unjustified. Other countries, world leaders and religious leaders also condemned the decision, pointing out that it goes against international law and the resolutions of the UN Security Council, hinders the prospects of peace in the region and achieving the two-state solution, and undermines the role of the US as a peace broker.
President Trump proved his unwavering support for Israel, claiming it was a campaign promise that he was keeping and a long overdue act that no previous US president was able to deliver. If Israel, as an occupying power, was already acting with impunity in confiscating Palestinian land, building illegal settlements and trampling all over international laws, while confident of US protection and veto power, it will now bulldoze full speed ahead in making Jerusalem a fully Jewish city.
The Arab and Muslim world, especially in Palestine, where the Palestinians again are slapped with another betrayal, is in uproar. Deaths and injuries of Palestinians by the brutal Israeli forces — in “one of the most successful democracies in the world” — have been reported during clashes.
Saudi Arabia and other countries have warned of the dangerous consequences of a decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. We will for sure witness these consequences. Is the US ready to bear the responsibility?
Trump said his announcement “marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Maybe this decision will dislodge the knot in which the peace talks have been stuck for years and the Palestinians will have their independent state. Maybe the Arab and Muslim world will find its way again to a common goal, unite its efforts and channel its energy toward it. There is no other issue as dear and sensitive for Arabs and Muslims as Jerusalem. The Arab League had an emergency session on Saturday and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation will hold an extraordinary summit on Wednesday. The world will be watching and waiting for some resolve.
President Trump said: “Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital.” But Israel is not like other nations, it founded and imposed itself on a land that was not its own — there was no Israel or a Jewish state before 1948. So to claim that it has the right to determine its own capital without consideration to the rights of the people living there for centuries adds insult to injury. Jerusalem is a sacred city to Jews, Christians and Muslims; and during Christian and Muslim rule followers of all three faiths lived and worshipped freely, unlike what has been happening under Zionist rule.
While US calls for moderate voices, reasoned debates and expelling extremists in wake of Jerusalem move, things will probably get worse, with more chaos, violence and terrorism.
The president said “we finally acknowledge the obvious: That Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality.” Yes the Israeli government has made it a fait accompli, but that will never change the fact and the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state.
Simply saying that he is “not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders” creates more confusion, because again there is an imposition of a fait accompli that Jerusalem, as a whole, is the capital of Israel while leaving little room for the parties involved to negotiate on the details of boundaries and borders. The Palestinians still persevering in Jerusalem can expect to face more harassment by settlers and biased legislations.
Maintaining the status quo at the holy sites has so far not been favorable to Palestinians. They can now expect more aggression, more denying of their right to worship and access the holy sites, and more desecration of the Muslim holy sites.
While Trump called for moderate voices, reasoned debates and expelling extremists, things will probably get worse, with more chaos, violence and terrorism.
This decision has opened so many “possibilities.” Did the US consider all these possibilities and draft possible reactions and measures?
• Maha Akeel is a Saudi writer. Twitter: @MahaAkeel1