World leaders, allies and foes alike, are expressing dismay at Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – warning the decision would provoke both Muslims and Christians.
Ever since the 1979 Camp David Accords were signed, American presidents have refused to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel or to move the U.S. Embassy there. As NBC News reported “The U.S. approach has been that Jerusalem’s status should be negotiated between the Israelis and Palestinians.”
However, as CNN reported, all that is expected to change on Wednesday.
Trump will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday and direct the State Department to begin the process to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, senior administration officials said.
The decision, which is already being cheered by the President’s supporters and the Israeli government, is expected to roil the region, with US Arab allies warning Trump on Tuesday that it will undermine regional stability and stymie the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
Various media outlets reported on some of the reactions reverberating around the world.
NBC News reported that:
- The decision will “provoke Muslims and Christians alike,” Jordan’s King Abdullah predicted, while Pope Francis urged the White House to reconsider.
- Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be an act of “madness” that would “plunge the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said.
- “There is no way that there can be talks with the Americans. The peace process is finished. They have already pre-empted the outcome,” Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi told the Associated Press. “They cannot take us for granted.”
- Hamas also declared three “days of national anger” starting Wednesday and called for protest rallies and sit-ins outside U.S. embassies and consulates in the region.
- Pope Francis expressed “profound concern” at Trump’s move and said that he prayed “wisdom and caution will prevail so as to avoid adding new elements of tension in a world … already convoluted and marred by many cruel conflicts.” In unscripted remarks after his weekly general audience at the Vatican, he said Jerusalem was “a unique city, sacred for Jews, Christians and Muslims,” and urged that “everyone respect the city’s status quo in respect to the pertinent resolutions by the United Nations.”
BBC News reported that:
- Turkey’s President “Recep Tayyip Erdogan said such a move would cross a ‘red line’ for Muslims. “Mr Trump! Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims,” Mr Erdogan said in a televised speech on Tuesday. “We could go as far as cutting diplomatic ties with Israel over the issue.”
- French President Emmanuel Macron told Donald Trump he is “concerned” the US leader could unilaterally recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying any decision on its status must be “within the framework of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians”.
- The European Union, part of the so-called Middle East Quartet of mediators which includes the US, the UN and Russia, warned of “serious repercussions on public opinion in large parts of the world”.
- Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit warned it would be “a dangerous measure that would have repercussions”.
- Saudi Arabia said such a move before a final settlement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would “have a detrimental impact on the peace process”.
- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has urged world leaders to intervene, saying “such a US decision would destroy the peace process”.
- Jordan, custodian of Islamic sites in Jerusalem, has warned of “grave consequences”.
In broader terms, CNN reported that:
Trump’s decision will defy explicit appeals from allied leaders in the Middle East and Europe and could therefore damage American foreign policy goals and relationships. The move is likely to squander any remaining idea that the United States can be an honest broker in the stalled final status talks between Israel and the Palestinians. It is also likely to squelch son-in-law Jared Kushner’s attempt to revive the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
CNN went on to speculate that Trump’s action was likely politically motivated:
CNN’s Kevin Liptak reported on Tuesday that the President was concerned about losing his base and has taken steps to galvanize conservative support — for instance, in his endorsement of Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, who has been accused of initiating sexual contact with a 14-year-old, sexually assaulting a 16-year-old and pursuing relationships with teenage girls while he was in his 30s. He has denied those claims. The Jerusalem decision also comes with Trump under heavy political pressure as the Russia probe reaches directly into his inner circle.
The vow to move the US embassy to Jerusalem was a staple of Trump’s campaign speeches, and it appealed to evangelical voters, rich Republican donors and GOP foreign policy hawks.
“When I become President, the days of treating Israel like a second class citizen will end, on Day 1,” Trump told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference last year.