Amid threats, promises, and outrage across most of the middle-east, President Trump will announce this afternoon that 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.
The process of moving the embassy could take years and puts the U.S. in compliance with Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. Each president since the act’s passage has signed a waiver every six months while in office, keeping the embassy in the city of Tel-Aviv for national security concerns.
Former President Bill Clinton made Jerusalem a campaign issue in 1992, attacking then-former President George H.W. Bush for having allegedly “repeatedly challenged Israel’s sovereignty over a united Jerusalem” and vowing to move the embassy during his administration.
Clinton, however, believed moving the embassy and recognizing the capital may derail his many attempts at brokering a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.
The cycle appeared to repeat itself once again during the 2000 U.S. presidential election when former President George W. Bush castigated Clinton for failing to follow through on his embassy promise and vowing to get the process started in his few months in office. Bush never made a concerted effort towards moving the embassy and became embroiled his own Middle East conflicts.
Former President Barack Obama himself never attacked Bush or Clinton for not moving the embassy to Jerusalem but declared in a 2008 campaign speech, “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”
The Obama administration similarly never pursued a serious effort at moving or declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel formally, even taking a case all the way to the supreme court to block American citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their place of birth.
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 already is…
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.”
Palestinian protesters burn Trump pictures in Bethlehem on December 5, 2017
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President Trump’s announcement is due to start at 1300ET:
The declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital carries deep symbolic significance and could have dangerous consequences. The competing claims to east Jerusalem, the section of the city captured by Israel in 1967, have frequently boiled over into deadly violence over the years. East Jerusalem is home to the city’s most sensitive Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, as well as its 330,000 Palestinian residents.
The United States has never endorsed the Jewish state’s claim of sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem and has insisted its status be resolved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiation.
The mere consideration of Trump changing the status quo sparked a renewed U.S. security warning on Tuesday. America’s consulate in Jerusalem ordered U.S. personnel and their families to avoid visiting Jerusalem’s Old City or the West Bank, and urged American citizens in general to avoid places with increased police or military presence.