Trump decides to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Middle East on the boil


The White House has said that the US President Donald Trump has decided to controversially recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Trump is likely to make the announcement on Wednesday (today). The move is expected to evoke angry reactions  from the Palestinians and the entire Arab world.

Trump is also expected to approve shifting the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but not for several years, said a report by BBC. In a speech at the White House later on Wednesday, the US President will announce the start of a process to move the US embassy from its current location in Tel Aviv to “a site in Jerusalem”, reported Britain’s Sky News.

The status of Jerusalem – a holy site for Israelis and Palestinians – is extremely contentious. Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The issue goes to the heart of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, who are backed by the rest of the Arab and wider Islamic world.

Israel has welcomed the move while the powerless Arab leaders have warned against the US US decision. Hamas, which controls Gaza, has called for protests. The Palestinian factions said protests will start on Wednesday and last until Friday at the very least. According to Palestinian leaders, marches against the decision were being backed by the Palestinian Authority, Israeli newspaper Haaretz said.

The city is home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem.

Israel occupied the sector, previously occupied by Jordan, in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital. However, Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognised internationally, and all countries, including Israel’s closest ally the US, have maintained their embassies in Tel Aviv.

The move, if materialised, would mean a recognition of the city as Israel’s capital and is likely to fuel conflicts between Israel and Palestine further giving rise to global concerns.

White officials have, however, said Trump might not immediately move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem given logistical complexities and it might take several years, the BBC said.

The Trump administration said recognising Jerusalem should be seen as “a recognition of reality” by the President. Specific boundaries of the city would remain subject to a final status agreement, it said. The status of holy sites will not be affected.

Trump had promised the move to pro-Israel voters during his campaign for the presidency. Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Mahisan told Haaretz that Trump’s decision was “inflammatory” and will inspire Palestinians to take to the streets in rage.

“The Palestinian people know how to protect their rights and we are in consultations regarding (our moves) in the coming days.”

The Israeli Defence establishment is preparing for the demonstrations with intelligence assessments based on decisions taken by the Palestinian National Authority and by different factions within Palestinian society.

Most of the activity is expected to take place in city centres, near American embassies and consulates.

The main procession is planned for Thursday noon in al-Manara Square in Ramallah. People from across the West Bank are expected to join the march.

On Wednesday, a large demonstration is scheduled to take place in Jenin. The Israeli military has decided to augment forces, mainly at prominent friction spots where soldiers come into contact with Palestinians, the Haaretz said.

The police are also preparing, with reinforcements planned for Jerusalem and around the American embassy in Tel Aviv.

Thousands of policemen are expected to be on duty in Jerusalem on Friday. Their main concern is lone wolf attacks that might be carried out by perpetrators across the city.

(With additional inputs from IANS)