Future of Jerusalem

 Future of Jerusalem
Reports have emerged that US President Donald Trump will be announcing soon that the US will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Israel is the world's only Jewish state..

Reports have emerged that US President Donald Trump will be announcing soon that the US will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Background

Israel is the world's only Jewish state. The Jews staked claim for a land of their own due to religious reasons. They trace their origins to Abraham, who they consider as their patriarch. A number of Jews migrated to Europe predating the Roman Empire. In fact, they accounted for 10% of the population. Though a prosperous commune, the Jews were subjected to a wide range of restrictions and discrimination.

Around late 19th century, there was a rise of nationalism amongst the Jewish people with many calling for a separate state. In February 1896, Theodor Herzl authored Der Judenstaat, a pamphlet that laid down the case for a modern Jewish state. This pamphlet would become one of the most important texts in the Zionist movement. Religion was used as the foundation for the claim. In the early 20th century, thousands of Jews emigrated to Palestine and established Kibbutz.

In 1917, Arthur James Balfour, the Foreign Secretary of Britain, wrote a brief letter to Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, an influential Jewish citizen. He conveyed that the British government would support the creation of Jewish homeland in Palestine. This has come to be known as the Balfour Declaration. Around this time British troops took control of Palestine.

In 1947, United Nations adopted a plan to partition Palestine into Arab and Jewish sections. In the immediate aftermath, the war between Arab nations and Israel took place. The Arabs were initially on the offensive but their military resources dried up when the UN declared an arms embargo on the region. Only Czechoslovakia violated the agreement and provided weapons to Israel. In 1949, Israel signed a series of armistice agreements with the Arab nations involved. No peace treaties were signed and in 1967, Israel fought the decisive “Six Day War” against Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

Major wars such as the War of Attrition, Yom Kippur War and the Gaza War have been fought over the years. Nearly every effort by the international community to establish peace in the region has failed.

Jerusalem is a city located on a plateau in the Judaean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. It is considered to be one of the holiest sites by millions of people across the world (it is considered holy by Christians, Muslims and Jews). Israelis and Palestinians both claim Jerusalem as their capital, as the State of Israel maintains its primary governmental institutions there while the State of Palestine ultimately foresees the city as its seat of power. So far, neither claim is widely recognized internationally. The Battle for Jerusalem occurred from December 1947 to 18 July 1948. As a result, the city was split between Israel and Jordan after the war, Israel ruling West Jerusalem and Jordan ruling East Jerusalem with the Old City.

 

Analysis

Reports have emerged that US President Donald Trump will be announcing soon that the US will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. In addition, he will reportedly, sign a waiver to keep the US embassy in Tel Aviv for another six months. However, his administration will move the diplomatic mission to Jerusalem at some point. This would be considered a major win for the state of Israel which has long lobbied for the move.

Questions are now being raised on whether Trump will restrict recognition to West Jerusalem and if he will mention Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem. “The devil is in the details of what they announce,” said Martin S. Indyk, who served as American ambassador to Israel under President Bill Clinton. “If this is not framed properly, far from resolving this issue, it will land the administration in even hotter water.”

A White House spokesman said Thursday: “The president has always said it is a matter of when, not if. The president is still considering options and we have nothing to announce.” A report by CNN notes, “Sources believe that Trump will attempt to soften the announcement for Palestinians, possibly, as CNN reported Thursday, by specifying only West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinian president's office and senior officials have warned of the potential destructive effects of any move denying their claim to occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the PLO Executive Committee said, “Everyone has informed the US administration that Jerusalem isn't just a Palestinian question, it's an Arab, Islamic and Christian question. The US administration understands the enormity of the subject. We are being told that promises were made during the election campaign that were postponed due to internal US problems facing Trump or anyone else ... but these are not our concern. This is a very big issue. To touch Jerusalem, touch al-Aqsa Mosque, touch the Church of the Holy Sepulchre - this is playing with fire. There is no meaning for a Palestinian state without East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Assessment

Our assessment is that the Trump administration will be cautious in how it approaches the issue surrounding Jerusalem. We believe that the President will declare West Jerusalem as the capital so as to not offend the Arab nations especially key allies like Saudi Arabia. 

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