On December 6th 2017, President Trump announced that the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City. This announcement has sparked opposition and support, domestically and abroad.
Jerusalem has long been disputed over which nation, or people, should control which part of the city. Israel contests that all, or at the very least West Jerusalem, belongs to the Israelis. Meanwhile, Palestinians, a group of people who have occupied areas neighboring Israel for thousands of years but are not officially recognized as a sovereign nation by many countries, have fought over this land, believing it was theirs from the beginning. Palestine believes East Jerusalem, in addition to West Jerusalem, should be subject to permanent status negotiations, and are of the opinion that the Israelis are being completely uncooperative. Other nations in this region, such as Iran and Syria, hold the same belief as the Palestinians, with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia calling the move “unjustified and irresponsible.” Additionally, the International Olympic Committee has recently recognized East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.
By announcing the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, President Trump is showing where his loyalty lies. He is choosing the interest of Israel over any other alliances in the Middle East, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, the latter two have helped in the on-going fight against ISIS. These predominantly Muslim countries believe their holy land should be given to no one, or at the very least not be controlled by a Jewish state who has few friends in the Middle East.
Ryan Orzechowski, a senior at Oakdale High School, is excited about the announcement, saying: “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel…For years presidents have been saying they’re going to move our embassy to Jerusalem but Trump is the first to come through.”
On the other hand, Muslim allies will see this announcement as disrespectful and misinformed. Elisabeth Smith, a history and government teacher at Oakdale High School, thinks the announcement will have broader implications: “The UN is not in favor of this move. Most countries think this will raise tensions in an already unstable region of the world.”
To add to Ms. Smith’s point, British Prime Minister Theresa May called the announcement “unhelpful in terms of peace prospects in the region.” Smith wondered: “I don’t know if peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians will be possible after this announcement.”
Sharing her view is the Pope of the Catholic Church, who expressed “deep worry” for peace in the region.
Now that the announcement has been made, it will take time before the embassy is actually moved to Israel, likely years. Since the announcement, Palestinians have called for “Days of Rage,” with protests erupting in Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority President has said the US will no longer play a role in peace negotiations, asking the UN to take its place. It won’t take long to see what, if any, ramifications there are from this announcement.