“God is weeping,” declared South African Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement to recognize Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel.
South African Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu rarely engages with the public due to his failing health. Yet, from his sickbed in a longtime battle with prostate cancer, he spoke. Tutu, an international leader who fought South African Apartheid, an insidious system of racial segregation and oppression, appealed to the world to express disagreement with Trump’s “inflammatory and discriminatory” move.
In a brief press conference held on December 6, 2017, Trump explained that he is “delivering … a best course of action between the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.” Trump stated that the state department prepares to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Battle for the Holy Land
Muslims, Jews and Christians hold Jerusalem as a sacred city. Since the state of Israel formed in 1948, conflict in the region ensues between Jews who relocated there after World War II and Palestinians living there. Jews claimed that the region was their traditional home, so after the holocaust, British colonial authority earmarked a portion of Palestine territory for Jews to establish a national home.
Decades of war and conflicts between the groups and their supporters resulted in a contentious relationship causing global debates.
As Jews settled and became the majority, millions of Palestinians fled or were dispelled, leaving the rest of the world divided. US government are supporters of Israel, while some of its citizens disagree. To bring some type of accord, a host of governments and world bodies provided a two-state solution as amicable terms.
The idea drew up the concept of two independent nations coexisting in a shared space. A Jewish majority occupies most of the land while a strip of Gaza would be acknowledged as a small Palestinian nation-state. The biggest issue is that both see Jerusalem as their capital city. Palestine agrees to the pact, but suffers from internal discord, while Israel begrudgingly agrees, it continues to encroach on Palestinian land.
In recent peace talks, Palestinians selected East Jerusalem as their capital if a two-state resolution succeeded; however, Trump’s announcement aligned in wholesale, the United States with Israel power.
Tutu is one of many leaders expressing open disapproval of Trump’s decision. In a resounding discord, government heads and officials claim that Trump disrupts a peace process already arduous and unstable.
French president, Emmanuel Marcon voiced disagreement, expressing support for “the two-state solution, Israel and Palestine, living in peace and security, with Jerusalem as the capital of the two states.”
On Twitter, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri posted a statement saying that he “abhors” Trump’s decision, while the president of the country claims that stability is threatened.
Whereas Jordan government says that the move “consolidates the Israeli occupation,” Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president, says Trump’s claims do not hold any legitimacy in an avowal emphasizing that Jerusalem is the “eternal capital of the State of Palestine.”
In a statement, Iraqi prime minister said, “Jerusalem is the title of coexistence between all religions and nations, and no country has the right to legitimize the occupation, go beyond the UN resolutions and affect the legitimate rights of Palestine”.
Iran’s leaders rebuked Trump, as well as Bahrain and Egypt.
Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, called the decision a “death sentence.”
Even the European Union and United Nations condemn Trump.
Trump’s announcement raises speculation in the US because of his personal ties to Israel. His son-in-law Jared Kushner comes from a family that is active in Israeli hegemony.
Last week, in the Special Counsel investigations of see if Trump is linked to Russia’s involvement in the 2016 US presidential elections, Michael Flynn testified that Kushner asked him to speak with a Russian official to postpone or stop a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
However, Trump is not backing down from his decision. Responding to the wave of global criticism, the White House said in a press release that they take a position established before and during the Trump Administration.
The release states:
President Trump’s action enjoys broad, bipartisan support in Congress, including as expressed in the Jerusalem Recognition Act of 1995. This Act was reaffirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago.
Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is the sole head-of-state in the Middle-East, announcing support of Trump. He posted on Twitter that “Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for 70 years.”
Nonetheless, the roll call of leaders chastising Trump grows and governments begin to scramble for a backlash they say is sure to come. Immediately following the press conference, security warnings alerted American citizens at US embassies in Turkey, Jordan, Germany and Britain. As well, half of the countries on the 15-member United Nations Security Council called for a meeting.
The British remain neutral on affairs.
Burn it Down
In the West Bank, the last piece of land occupied predominantly by Palestinians, civil unrest followed Trump’s remarks. For two days, Palestinians marched in the street in demonstrations against Trump and Jewish control resulting in a bloody clash with Israeli police and military. A hundred injuries have been reported.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh responded to Trump’s alignment with Israel as a “flagrant aggression against the Palestinian people.”
In Amman, demonstrators marched, too. Iranian authorities say that Trump’s plans potentially spark another intifada, while Israeli news says that an intifada is already underway.