Donald Trump has announced that the US will now recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This comes as a hugely controversial move considering decades of US policy to remain detached from the issue. Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and declared the city its capital, sparking intense feuds between Israel and Palestine ever since.
Animosity exists between the two nations because both states want to call Jerusalem their capital, given the city’s important religious history and symbolism.
Peace talks and fighting have been going on for years, with most experts concluding that the only viable solution might be a two-state settlement. Trump’s surprise move has sparked international uproar, creating deep divides between nations who are either pro-Palestine or pro-Israel.
Since Trump’s announcement protests and sporadic violence have increased across both Palestine and Israel. As of the 14th December 2017, air strikes have been fired against Hamas targets in the Gaza strip. This comes just hours after rockets were reported to have been fired at Israel from Palestinian territory. Gaza’s border crossings have now been shut.
The move has also forced key international leaders to state their position on the issue. King Salman of Saudi Arabia stated his commitment to a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Qassem Soleimani, Commander of Foreign Operations of the elite Revolutionary Guard said that Iran is ready to support Islamic resistant forces against Israel. Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, has stated that he will not accept any role of the US in the peace process. Trump has been under attack from several other international fronts. Putin has criticised Trump’s move, Hezbollah has promised to intensify their strategy to confront Israel and protests have spread from Asia, through the Middle East, to North Africa.
Other countries criticising the decision include the UK (the US’ main ally), France, Germany, Turkey and Jordan. However, some nations- including the Czech Republic, Ghana and Tanzania- have expressed support for the move.
We spoke to some students on either side of the debate to see what they had to say on the issue.
Lawrence, pro-Israel, “”Trump isn’t the first President to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel. The statement he made didn’t need to be controversial, the media and international frenzy is joke. In fact even if Israel withdrew to the 1967 borders tomorrow, West Jerusalem would still be a part of Israel. Every other country in the world is able to declare its own capital, why is Israel any different? This isn’t disputed land in West Jerusalem, that’s what people need to understand; the only people it’s ‘disputed’ by are the people who refuse to recognise Israel in any capacity, even within its 1967 borders. Had Trump come out and said East Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, I’d see the argument. He didn’t though.”
Alfie, pro-Palestine “Trump’s decision to come out and declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel is both ridiculous and counterproductive. For a nation that claims to have the Middle East’s best interests at heart and be a key player in the peace process, the USA displays a severe lack of intelligence. This move displays absolutely zero consideration for the Palestinian people, but more than that, it confirms the long-held belief that America is far from neutral. This is a clear demonstration of its bias, a bias that has been used to veto countless UN resolutions down the years. A bias that has led to the gradual decline of Palestine. The hypocrisy of the ‘Western’ world (see America) is now plain to see.”