President of the United States Donald Trump on Wednesday formally recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced that the US Embassy will be relocated to the city from Tel Aviv, prompting violent protests and threats of violence in the Palestinian Territories and across the Muslim world.
The US President called the decision “a long-overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement”.
He emphasised: “Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace”.
President Trump reiterated “support for the status quo at the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al Sharif”, making clear that “we are not taking any position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem”. Click here to read President Trump’s speech in full.
Jerusalem has been the de facto capital of Israel since it was founded in 1948 and holds a unique status for the nation, as the religious, national and cultural centre of the Jewish people for 3,000 years.
The status of Jerusalem is the single most contentious point in any peace negotiations, due to its importance to both Palestinians and Israelis.
Prime Minister Theresa May has said that the UK has “no plans” to move the British Embassy from Tel Aviv, and that the “status of Jerusalem… should ultimately be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians”.
Reacting to the announcement, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Trump had issued “a declaration of war against the Palestinian people”.
Leader of the terrorist organisation Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, called for an intifada (uprising) in response to the announcement, declaring: “This Zionist policy supported by the US cannot be confronted unless we ignite a new intifada”.
Protests have taken place across the Palestinian Territories, and across the Muslim world, with Israeli and US flags being burnt, and thousands being involved in running skirmishes with the IDF and Israeli police throughout the day.
In Gaza, one person died in the rioting, and rocket attacks from the territory took place yesterday and today.
While the EU, France, and Germany came out against the announcement, the Czech Republic announced that it would consider moving its embassy to West Jerusalem and the Philippines relayed a message to Israel expressing its willingness to follow suit. In April, Russia recognised West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.