Trump sparks global complaint by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,threatens to “inflame the region” with decision to move US embassy from Tel Aviv: Despite repeated warnings from his global counterparts, US President Donald Trump announced yesterday that the US embassy in Israel would be moving to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. Trump said the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which has been waived by consecutive US presidents since Congress passed it in 1995, “marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming that “we cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past.”
The Donald said the step was “long overdue” and necessary to achieving “lasting peace” in the region. You can watch Trump’s full speech here (runtime 11:41) or read the transcript provided by the White House.
Just about everyone else in the world (with the obvious exception of Bibi next door)could not disagree more. World leaders “condemned the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as an incendiary move in a volatile region,” Reuters says. Eight countries — Egypt, Bolivia, France, Italy, Sweden, Senegal, Uruguay, and the UK — have requested an emergency UN Security Council meeting this week. The Arab League will also hold an emergency summit on Saturday to discuss the decision. Morocco reportedly withdrew its ambassador to Washington in protest, while governments in Lebanon, Jordan, Germany, France, Turkey, Iran, and Australia — as well as the European Union and United Nations — warned of the potential conflict the decision could incite.
Official reaction from Egypt: The move, a departure decades of policy on the region, poses a real threat to regional stability and the future of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry warned in a statement yesterday, adding that Trump’s decision violates international consensus that recognizes Jerusalem an occupied territory and a key part of the age-old conflict. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi confirmed Egypt’s stance on the matter in a phone call with his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas.
The usual suspects in Egypt chime in: Al Azhar’s Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed Al Tayeb, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the members of the House of Representatives and political parties of all stripes condemned the move in the language you would expect.
In a televised speech yesterday, Abbas said the announcement effectively ends the US’decades-long role as mediator in the peace talks with Israel (see full text here, courtesy of AMAY). The Palestinian Liberation Organization will also hold an emergency meeting to discuss this most recent development and devise an appropriate response. Hamas officials also rejected the announcement, calling it a “flagrant aggression against the Palestinian people,” Reuters says.
In Gaza, Palestinians are gathering by the hundreds in protest, burning Israeli and US flags, The Associated Press reports. Protests also broke out in Jordan’s capital Amman, while Istanbul saw a few hundred demonstrators gather outside the US consulate.
Embassies in Cairo are issuing the usual security warnings. The Americans are noting that while they are “not aware of any planned demonstrations against this policy,” US citizens should watch the news, “maintain high level of vigilance, take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security and follow instructions of local authorities.” The Canadians are flagging a “heightened risk of demonstrations in Egypt” and warning their citizens to “remain vigilant and avoid all large gatherings.” So, people of Kanaka, stay off the parking lot widely known as the Sixth of October Bridge.
Bloviating aside, at the end of the day “there is little the Arab world can do to challengeTrump’s move,” Zeina Karam says in a piece for The Associated Press. “Arab powerhouses are mired in their own internal troubles.” The New York Times sang a similar tune, saying that many in the Middle East are wondering if “the real Arab response would amount to little more than a whimper.” Our favourite primer so far: Reuters offers a good break down over why there is “uproar over Trump’s Jerusalem declaration.”
The story is topping headlines and front pages across the globe, with coverage on The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, CNN, Bloomberg, and every other news outlet under the sun.