Israel has long been a great ally to the US, as the nation is one of the few beacons of light in the tumultuous Middle East. The tiny nation is also constantly besieged by Islamic radicals from all sides, who hate the fact that the Jewish nation is allowed to exist in their midst. A long-standing debate that’s very symbolic of America’s backing with Israel concerns the location of our embassy.
Because of the decades-old battle over territory and rights between the Palestinians and Israelis, our embassy has been in Tel Aviv. However, there’s been pushes for a move to Jerusalem, which would effectively signal America’s support of Israeli control over the ancient capitol. Recent presidents have considered it, but none have had the courage to make the move, but it looks like all that’s about to change.
As reported at Haaretz, on Tuesday, President Trump informed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah that he plans to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump also called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi to inform him of the decision.
Reports indicate that on Wednesday, Trump will officially declare that the United States will be moving its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. However, the move won’t be immediate, as there will be at least a 6 month delay before it actually happens, but the president’s expected to instruct his aides to begin making preparations.
This is a highly controversial decision, one that will send shockwaves through the Middle East and even the world. The Israeli/Palestine problem has been one of the most contentious global issues for decades, and this move is certain to anger Islamists everywhere, who view the Israelis as an illegally occupying force in the region.
During the call with Trump, Abbas warned that the action will have “dangerous consequences,” said Abbas’ spokesman, adding that “the Palestinian stance is determined and steadfast – there will not be a Palestinian state without East Jerusalem as its capital according to decisions by the international community.”
Abdullah also warned Trump of his decision’s effect on Middle East security and stability. Abdullah pledged he would thwart any American initiative to renew the peace process and would encourage resistance among Muslims and Christians alike. Apparently, Abbas and Abdullah talked after Trump’s call and decided they’ll be in coordination in the days ahead.
European and Middle Eastern leaders alike are concerned with the president’s decision, especially the EU, which has long been opposed to an embassy relocation.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that if Trump goes ahead with the decision, Turkey will cut diplomatic ties with Israel. He added that Jerusalem is “a red line for Muslims.” Israel responded that “Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital for 3,000 years.”
Egypt has warned of “possible dangerous repercussions” if Trump follows through on plans to recognize contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Needless to say, this issue is highly charged and will have major repercussions. The move being delayed half a year is a major indication of that fact, as it gives the president the opportunity to “reconsider.” However, the announcement alone is a bold one, and moving forward, the president will have to be very careful in handling this explosive issue.