On December 6, President Trump announced that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Trump also stated plans to eventually move the United States embassy there from its current location in Tel Aviv.
Jerusalem, a key piece in the peace process between Israel and Palestine, has been divided since 1967, with East Jerusalem occupied by Palestine. Trump’s move only declares official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but does not establish or move city boundaries for Israelis or Palestinians.
On December 21, however, the United Nations General Assembly voted to reject Trump’s position on Jerusalem. In the vote, 128 nations supported the U.N. General Assembly stance that the United States’ move will have no legal impact over Jerusalem. Nine countries voted against the U.N. position, and 35 abstained.
UN Overwhelmingly Condemns Trump’s Jerusalem Decision | CBS This Morning | [2017-12-22]
UN Votes to condemn US decision on Jerusalem | Fox News [2017/12/21]
Up to now, the United States has refrained from officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The sensitive issue of Jerusalem, its boundaries, and its status, has long been seen as one of the ultimate considerations in the final peace negotiation process between Israel and Palestine. Many feel Trump’s move signifies that the United States has abandoned its neutral position in Israel-Palestine peace negotiations, and that as a result, the process has been disrupted.
What’s more, Trump’s decision is said to be in violation of several U.N. Security council resolutions pertaining to the Israel-Palestine conflicts. It also is seen as endorsing a move by Israel that may be a violation of a portion of the Geneva Convention that “prohibits appropriation of lands won in war to the territory of an existing nation,” according to CBS’ Jeffrey Wright.
UN Condemns Trump’s Jerusalem Decision | CBS News [2017/12/21]
US should dial back the rhetoric against UN: Larry Korb | Fox Business [2017/12/21]
The city of Jerusalem is considered holy to three major religions. It’s where Solomon is said to have built the first Jewish temple; where Christ is said to have been crucified; and where the prophet Mohammed is said to have ascended to heaven.
One issue that has not widely been discussed regarding the question of why Trump made such a move is the fact that Jerusalem is significant to American Evangelical Christians (81 percent of whom voted for Trump). The city figures significantly in what Evangelicals refer to as the “end times.” In order for Biblical prophecy to be fulfilled, they say, Jerusalem needs to be in the control of Israel. In order for Trump to fulfill his campaign promise to his base, Jerusalem needs to be recognized as the Israeli capital.
Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and to move the U.S. embassy there has exacerbated hostility from groups who align solidly with the Palestinians. On the other hand, since the U.N. has trounced support of the decision, many feel Trump’s move will be contained in its worldwide impact.