Denunciation vs celebration: Will the US recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital?


Published: 2017-12-03 12:45

Last Updated: 2017-12-03 12:48

Trump is expected to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Trump is expected to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Roya News Source

After reports predicted that US President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday, and announce moving the US embassy there, Palestinian and Israeli officials voiced their opinions on the hot topic.

While many Palestinian voices condemned the move, which they believed would cause a rise in tensions with the Palestinians and destruct the peace process, Israeli officials praised the US decision, which they said calls for a celebration.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' adviser, Mahmoud Habash, warned that if Trump went ahead with his move, it would amount to “a complete destruction of the peace process”.

“The world will pay the price for any change in Jerusalem’s state,” Habash said, in Abbas’ presence.

Meanwhile, Hamas warned the US from recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and called on Palestinians to stand as a “tall wall” against this decision, and to renew the Jerusalem intifada.

"This decision would represent a US assault on the city and give legitimacy to (Israel) over the city," Hamas said in a statement released on Saturday.

Such a move would also violate international law, which views Jerusalem as an occupied territory, and "gives a cover to Israel to pursue the judaization of Jerusalem and expulsion of the Palestinians from the city," Hamas said.

Saeb Erekat, the Secretary-General of the PLO Executive Committee, confirmed that he has spoken to Arab leaders, who have relayed the same message "that Jerusalem is a red line, not just for Palestinians but for Arabs, Muslims and Christians everywhere".

"Everyone has informed the US administration that Jerusalem isn't just a Palestinian question, it's an Arab, Islamic and Christian question,” Erekat said.

"There is no meaning for a Palestinian state without East Jerusalem as its capital."

On his part, the Arab League Secretary-General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said that any move by the US would fuel extremism and violence.

“Today we say very clearly that taking such action is not justified ... it will not serve peace or stability, but will fuel extremism and resort to violence,” Aboul Gheit said in a statement published on the Arab League’s website.

On the other hand, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman posted a clip of Trump’s 2016 campaign pledge to relocate the embassy, and said: “Words that come from the heart, enter the heart. I hope we can celebrate this kind of an announcement before the Hanukkah holiday”.

Former Israeli prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak also said that he regretted the move didn’t happen “10, 20 or 65 years ago. I think that all embassies of all nations should be in Jerusalem, that is the natural situation.”

“I would be happy to hear that the embassy is moved, not just that there is a statement announcing the self-evident,” said Barak.

However, a US government official told Israel National News that if US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be delayed considerably.

"Trump's announcement would allow him to sign a waiver deferring the Embassy move, as previous presidents did, while allowing him to continue advancing talks between Israel and the Palestinians.”

The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 is a public law of the United States, passed by the 104th Congress on October 23, 1995.

It was passed for the purposes of initiating and funding the relocation of the Embassy of the United States in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no later than May 31, 1999.

The act called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city and for it to be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel, however this is not internationally recognized.

The law has never been implemented due to opposition from Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump, who view it as a Congressional infringement on the executive branch's constitutional authority over foreign policy. They have consistently claimed the presidential waiver on national security interests.