• Nasya Smith

Israel: More to follow US lead?


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is in talks with other world leaders who want to follow suit after the US announced they will move their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

After the US's announcement, the Russian embassy released a statement referring to an announcement in April this year when they said they would also move their embassy to west Jerusalem once a peaceful decision had been reached by Israel and Palestinians.

According to the Independent UK, Bob Blackman, a Tory MP, said that the embassy move could "actually be a good decision" in terms of encouraging Israel and Palestinian peace talks.

In a short speech at the White House by Donald Trump on Wednesday, Trump said that the US was not presuming decisions to be made by the parties about jurisdiction, and that west Jerusalem would be unaffected whatever the settlement. Trump also stated that this decision did not include recognising the entire Jerusalem as the capital and did not rule out a future division of the city. Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their own future state.

"The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides.... Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli supreme court.... It is the location of the official residence of the prime minister and the president. It is the headquarters of many government ministries,” said Trump.

Trump's decision was part of upholding his promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem during his 2016 presidential campaign. The decision was informed by a 1995 law, which stipulates that the US has to move its embassy to Jerusalem. Trump's predecessors avoided the decision to avoid complicating the already tense environment in the Middle East.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, described Trump's decision as an “important step toward peace”.

“I have determined that it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said. “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.... After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.”

US embassy alerts

US embassies in across the Middle East, particularly with high Muslim populations have issued security alerts urging Americans to exercise caution. Some of the embassies include Turkey, Jordan, Germany, Venezuela and Britain.

Iraq's foreign ministry has called on the US ambassador in Baghdad to hand him a memo against the US's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Reuters reports.

Backlash

The leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, on Thursday called for a new uprising against Israel in light of Trump's decision. "We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada in the face of the Zionist enemy," he said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the decision by the US. May said it was "unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region".

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, made a statement saying the US had now excluded itself from any further peace negotiating and mediation.

Other allies of the US such as Saudi Arabia's King Salman said the decision "constitutes a flagrant provocation to all Muslims, all over the world".

Protests have flared up across the region from Damascus Gate, one of the entrances to the old city, to Bethlehem.

The United Nations Security Council is expected to meet on Friday to discuss US's decision, after a request was made by eight countries on the 15-member council, which includes the UK, Italy and France.


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