Donald Trump’s announcement that his adminstration would recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital will end decades of US policy that such recognition could come only after the status of the city is settled in negotiations.
Last month, US lawmakers held hearings to promote recognising Jerusalem and moving the embassy that only heard from members of the Israel lobby, and completely excluded Palestinians.
Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its “united and eternal” capital. The western part of the city was conquered and ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian residents by Zionist militias as Israel was established in 1948.
While a number of countries have recognised Israel’s “de facto” control of what came to be known as West Jerusalem, none has recognised any part of the city as Israel’s capital.
The United Nations and world governments consider East Jerusalem, which Israel invaded in 1967, to be part of the occupied Palstinian territory of the West Bank. The UN Security Council has ruled Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem to be “null and void.”
On the ground in East Jerusalem, Palestinians face incremental ethnic cleansing by Israel to make way for Jewish settlers. Israel implements a host of measures to make the lives of Palestinians in the city impossible, including building restrictions, home demolitions and expulsions, and the revocation of residency rights.
Since the occupation began in 1967, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, Israel has treated Palestinians indigenous to the city “as unwanted immigrants and worked systematically to drive them out of the area.”
Trump’s shift has already been strongly denounced by the 57 member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and US allies, including France, have warned that the announcement would sabotage the already dim prospects of achieving a two-state solution.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the American move would cross a “red line” and threatened that his country “could go as far as cutting diplomatic ties with Israel over the issue.”
Years of unconditional US support for Israel, coupled with international inaction, have set the stage for Trump’s moves on Jerusalem. Palestinians in Jerusalem have shown a tremendous capacity to resist, such as the weeks of nonviolent civil disobedience last summer that forced Israel to retreat from measures aimed at tightening its grip on the al-Aqsa mosque compound.
However, Trump’s move will embolden the so-called Temple Movement.
With significant Israeli government backing, this extremist Jewish movement aims to destroy Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock and replace them with a Jewish temple – potentially triggering religious conflict on an unimaginable scale.