United States President Donald Trump kept a campaign promise and fulfilled 70 years of Jewish longing on Wednesday by officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announcing plans to move the American embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. “Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” said Trump in comments posted to the White House website. “This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do.”
Israelis on both sides of the political aisle were supportive of the move by Trump, while Palestinians in Gaza burned the American flag ahead of the anticipated announcement.
“From every corner of the earth, our people yearned to return to Jerusalem, to touch its golden stones, to walk its hallowed streets. So it’s rare to be able to speak of new and genuine milestones in the glorious history of this city. Yet today’s pronouncement by President Trump is such an occasion,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office. “We’re profoundly grateful for the President for his courageous and just decision.”
Even before Trump’s grand announcement, the Palestinians were raging against the decision and threatening worse. The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported that the American flag was burned in Gaza earlier on Wednesday to protest the Trump decision. More seriously, a Hamas leader, Salah al-Bardawil, was quoted by Ma’an as calling the recognition of Jerusalem a “declaration of war” and proclaiming that the Palestinians are “ready to fight.”
Trump, meanwhile, took the time to call for a peace deal again between Israel and the Palestinians and noted that the Jerusalem decision does not predetermine the borders of Jerusalem in such a deal. And in response to critics who believe the move will destroy efforts to achieve that peace deal, Trump noted that the old method wasn’t working either.
After decades of not recognizing Jerusalem, Trump said that “we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result… 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.”
Netanyahu echoed that sentiment in his comments. “There is no peace that doesn’t include Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel,” said the Israeli leader. “I share President Trump’s commitment to advancing peace between Israel and all of our neighbors, including the Palestinians. And we will continue to work with the President and his team to make that dream of peace come true.”
The opposing political side in Israel also backed Trump’s decision and his call for peace. Yehiel “Hilik” Bar, the deputy speaker in Israel’s parliament (Knesset) and the secretary general of the left-leaning labor party, said in a published statement that Trump reaffirmed the “important” American commitment to the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“In this important, sensitive moment, I call upon both sides, Israel and the Palestinians, to demonstrate caution and moderation, strongly reject and denounce the extremist voices on both sides,” said Bar. “To use the responsible commitment shown by Trump to promote peace.”
Trump also called upon all parties to maintain the religious “status quo” in Jerusalem with regards to the holy sites, something that Netanyahu promised to do.
In setting up his reasons for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Trump noted that Jerusalem is the house of national government at all levels in Israel and is the place where world leaders meet their Israeli counterparts. The American representative to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, noted in comments released by her office that “Across the globe, America has its embassy in the capital city of the host country. Israel will now be no different. It is the just and right thing to do.”
It’s also been something Israel has been awaiting for decades. “The Jewish people and the Jewish state will be forever grateful,” said Netanyahu. “This has been our goal from Israel’s first day… President Trump, thank you for today’s historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, December 6, 2017)