Despite series of warnings from Arab leaders yesterday, President Trump has gone ahead with his campaign promise to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem means the US regards Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Zionist state, this despite the city’s status being under dispute since Israel seized part of it in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
According to news reports, President Trump spoke to several leaders in the Middle East on Tuesday, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, King Abdullah of Jordan and King Salman of Saudi Arabia regarding his plans. According to White Hose transcripts of the phone conversations, all the leaders warned Trump not to go ahead with the plan move as it will trigger a series of repercussions around the world.
The Saudi King was unequivocal in his remarks to Trump. The king did not mince his words when he told Trump that moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “is a dangerous step that provokes the feelings of Muslims around the world,”
US intent on moving the embassy to Jerusalem has been on the cards for the past 22 years since the US Congress passed a bill then for the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem, a city that both Palestine and the Jewish state are claiming as their own capitals. However since the passing of that bill in 1995, every US President has waived the implementation of the Congressional directive every six months for national security reasons.
During the run-up to the US elections last year, then candidate Trump pledged that if elected, he will go ahead and relocate the embassy. Since his swearing in on January 20th, President Trump, like his predecessors before him, waived moving the embassy. In his case, this has happen once. Since the matter comes before a sitting president every six months, this was the second time he would have waived the issue, technically postponing it to another six months.
However, in a ceremony at the White House earlier today, President Trump broke with tradition yet again effectively validating Israel’s claim of ownership to an undivided Jerusalem as its eternal capital while ignoring Palestinian sentiments and the realities on the ground.
While we wait to see what the rest of the world may do regarding the latest US move, all eyes are on Hamas, the Islamist group that is technically in leadership of the Gaza strip, an enclave of the Palestinian Territories. The group which is known for launching brazen attacks on Israel is expected to spearhead a violent backlash to the latest US move. In a letter penned to Muslim and Arab leaders yesterday, the leader of Hamas Esmail Haniya said “The American administration’s recognition of occupied Jerusalem as the occupation’s capital and moving its embassy to Jerusalem crosses every red line,”
A Middle Eastern Analyst who spoke to Musliminc.com said there is a great chance of escalation of violence between Hamas and Israel as Haniya is not known as someone who issues empty threats. Besides that, the analyst believes that the only thing that we should expect to see are big speeches from Arab leaders, protest marches in the Muslim and Arab world and diplomatic resolutions from the Arab League but nothing substantive. “This is not a seismic shift for the average Palestinian-it neither adds nor subtracts from the fact that the Palestinian is living a life under siege.” Our analyst observed.