United States President Donald Trump is set to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday despite international outrage and widespread condemnation of the planned declaration.
Watch Trump give the speech live
The Arab world, U.S. allies and even Pope Francis has spoken out against the announcement that would also see the U.S. Embassy of Israel moved to Jerusalem, a city that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim as their rightful capital.
Currently, the embassy is located in Tel Aviv along with all other envoy buildings, a city largely seen as the de facto capital by the international community.
An hour before his speech, Trump said that the recognition was “long overdue”, reported multiple news agencies.
The U.S. State Department has instructed embassies to defer non-essential travel to Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank until Dec. 20, local media has reported.
This is likely due to protest rallies that could rise up in response to Trump’s announcement.
The U.S. has taken on a role of a mediator in regards to the conflict between Israel and Palestine in the past, but Arab leaders say Washington will give up that role by deliberately taking sides in the recognition.
Trump made the move a promise on the campaign trail, and has also promoted a peace plan for the Middle East that has not been revealed yet.
The White House has made clear it still supports a two-state solution, but Palestinian leadership has identified the declaration as an end for peace negotiations.
Palestinian Authority leadership called for “three days of rage” that has seen the burning of U.S. flags in during protests in Gaza City that included hundreds.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told Al Jazeera news agency that Trump’s decision was a “flagrant aggression.”
“This decision is an uncalculated gamble that will know no limit to the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim reaction.”
The Palestinian ethnicity representative to the United Kingdom, Manuel Hassassian told the BBC that Washington’s decision amounted to a “kiss of death” for two-state solution negotiations and amounted to a “declaration of war”.
Hassassian explained that it the declaration would be “the last straw to break the camel’s back”, kickstarting a “war in terms of diplomacy.”
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not directly addressed the move by Trump, however, he said earlier on Wednesday that that Israel’s “historical and national identity is receiving important expressions every day, but especially today.”
The announcement from Trump on the status of Jerusalem is expected at 1 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on the Post via the White House on YouTube.
White House advisor Kellyanne Conway confirmed to CNN news agency earlier on Wednesday that the U.S. president plans to go ahead with the declaration, a drastic and historic foreign policy change by Washington.
The Jerusalem Embassy Act was passed in 1995, and every six months the U.S. president has signed a waiver to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv, but it is this waiver that is up for renewal, giving Trump a chance to move it and recognize Jerusalem.
East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel from Jordan after the Six-Day War that took place during June in 1967, an action not recognized by the international community.
Israel has always considered the entirety of Jerusalem as its capital, however, the Palestinian Authority hope to utilize East Jerusalem as a capital for a future state.
Washington has had a longstanding policy of considering the status of the holy city an issue to be resolved in peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leadership.
The history of the conflict over this city goes back thousands of years, and more recently following the Second World War after Britain surrendered the former colony land for a Jewish state.
The day after Israel was founded, May 15, surrounding Arab states invaded the newborn country but were repelled and even lost land to the Jews in what became known as the Arab-Israeli War of 1948.
The armies of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq invaded on the pretense of intervention “for the sole purpose of restoring peace and security and establishing law and order in Palestine.”
From then, the conflict turned from a larger, more international fight to the modern day tensions between Palestine and Israel, however, as can be seen by the response to Trump’s planned declaration, the Arab world still holds Israel in apparent contempt.
There were many wars between Israel and the Arab world that transpired from 1948 to 2017, with many casualties on both sides. The U.S. has been a staunch supporter of Israel, but support for the small country has waned in other parts of the world.
The international community at large mostly supports a two-state solution to the conflict that would see Israel and a new state of Palestine co-existing peacefully between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan.
The world reacts
Jordan, a key Arab neighbor to Palestine, said Washington’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will “undermine efforts to resume the peace process.”
The country’s leader King Abdullah said Jerusalem is a “key to stability” for the entirety of the Middle East.
Turkey’s Recep Erdogan says the move will “play into the hands of terror groups”.
The United Kingdom and France have said their stance on Jerusalem will not waiver from the standard and keep their embassies in Tel Aviv.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the Muslim world “must stand united against this major plot”, according to international media.
Iran has been a strong opposition of the Israeli state, with tensions between Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants in Syria reaching a point of bombing on the part of Israel.
Hamas leader Haniya made clear that the recognition crossed all of the “red lines”.
China has warned against raising tensions in the region.
More details to follow. Image 1 of Jerusalem from Wikimedia Commons.
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