Today at 1pm, president Trump will announce the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but will sign a waiver delaying the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to there for 6 months. Trump’s decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem upends decades of American policy in the Middle East and risks inflaming violence in an already-tense region. And sure enough, the announcement prompted an immediate – and furious – response sparking Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that risks violent protests.
While Israel naturally welcomed the news, Palestinian officials declared the Mideast peace process “finished”, calling it a declaration of war, and Turkey announced it would host a meeting of Islamic nations next week to give Muslim countries’ leaders an opportunity to coordinate a response.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, warned him the announcement would have “dangerous” repercussions for regional stability. Separately, the Palestinian delegate to the United Kingdom said on Wednesday that President Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel signals “a declaration of war” in the region. “He is declaring war in the Middle East, he is declaring war against 1.5 billion Muslims, hundreds of millions of Christians that are not going to accept the holy shrines to be totally under the hegemony of Israel,” Manuel Hassassian told BBC 4 Radio’s “Today.”
The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state and fear that Trump’s declaration essentially imposes on them a disastrous solution for one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “There is no way that there can be talks with the Americans. The peace process is finished. They have already pre-empted the outcome,” said Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi. “They cannot take us for granted.”
The U.S. decision “destroys the peace process,” added Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Top Palestinian officials were meeting Wednesday to plot their course forward.
Elsewhere, the Turkish government’s spokesman on Wednesday said that the United States’ decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will plunge the region and the world into “a fire with no end in sight”.
“Declaring Jerusalem a capital is disregarding history and the truths in the region, it is a big injustice/cruelty, shortsightedness, foolishness/madness, it is plunging the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Twitter. “I call on everyone to act logically, respect the agreements they signed and behave reasonably, avoid risking world peace for domestic politics or other reasons,” he said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the “whole world is against” Trump’s move. He says that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be a “grave mistake” and would “not bring any stability, peace but rather chaos and instability.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be a “red line” for Muslims and “a big blow to the conscience of humanity.” The leader of NATO ally Turkey warned that the US taking such a step would force Ankara to sever diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. Erdogan has called for an emergency summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on December 13 to discuss the possibility of Jerusalem becoming Israel’s capital.
The Council of the League of Arab States released a statement calling the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital an act of “open aggression” against “the rights of the Palestinian people and all Muslims and Christians.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also blasted Washington’s decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem as a display of incompetence. “That they claim they want to announce Quds as the capital of occupied Palestine is because of their incompetence and failure,” Khamenei said, using the Arabic name for Jerusalem.
The Syrian government also weighed in on the planned move. “[The move] is the culmination of the crime of usurping Palestine and displacing the Palestinian people,” a Foreign Ministry official told state news agency SANA.
On Tuesday, Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem were spotted burning photographs of Donald Trump and holding signs reading “Move the embassy to your country, not ours,” and “Jerusalem, Palestine’s heart, is not up to negotiations.”
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