The Third Intifada deepens

The Third Intifada deepens
In December 2017, US President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. With this recognition, he has overturned decades of official US policy..

In December 2017, US President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. With this recognition, he has overturned decades of official US policy.

As a result of US’ declaration, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya has said that this was a declaration of war against Palestinians and called for a new "Intifada", or uprising.

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 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. Jordan and an alliance of Arab states rejected the 1947 UN Partition Plan under which Jerusalem was to be a corpus separatum, choosing instead to invade and conquer the Old City and East Jerusalem, although the Arab invading armies failed to conquer West Jerusalem. The city was divided along the 1949 Armistice Line until Jordan chose to join a coalition of Arab states and invade Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.

In 1967, Jordanian forces fired artillery barrages from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Although Israeli forces did not respond initially, not wanting to open up a Jordanian front in the war, Jordan continued to attack and occupied UN headquarters in Jerusalem. Israeli forces fought back and within two days managed to repulse the Jordanian forces and retake eastern Jerusalem. The Reunification of Jerusalem refers to the reunification of Jerusalem following the conquest of half of the city – including the walled Old City – in 1948, and a Jordanian annexation of the eastern part of the city that lasted for two decades.

The two-state solution refers to a solution of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict which calls for "two states for two groups of people." The two-state solution envisages an independent State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel, west of the Jordan River.

Analysis

In December 2017, US President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. With this recognition, he has overturned decades of official US policy.

“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said. “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.” He added, “My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” There had been some speculation Trump will restrict recognition to West Jerusalem; however, it did not prove to be the case.

Within minutes of Trump’s announcement, US embassies in Turkey, Jordan, Germany and Britain issued security alerts urging Americans to exercise caution. In addition, CNN reported that top officials within the Trump administration have urged the President to reconsider his position. According to the report, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo all protested the decision in private. Tillerson in particular, was not at Trump’s side when he made his announcement.

France, which is one of US’ staunch allies, have openly disagreed with the decision. French President Emmanuel Macron said that he did not support Trump’s “unilateral” decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He has also called for calm across the region. He said, “This decision is a regrettable decision that France does not approve of and goes against international law and all the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. The status of Jerusalem is a question of international security that concerns the entire international community. The status of Jerusalem must be determined by Israelis and Palestinians in the framework of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations.”

He added, “France and Europe are attached to a two-state solution - Israel and Palestine - living side by side in peace and security within recognized international borders with Jerusalem the capital of both states. For now, I urge for calm and for everyone to be responsible. We must avoid at all costs avoid violence and foster dialogue.” Additionally, the UN Security Council will be holding an emergency session on Jerusalem this Friday. Even the Vatican has sounded the alarm over the declaration.

Meanwhile, Palestinians have blasted Trump’s decision. Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the State of Palestine and Palestinian National Authority said, “The decision by President Trump will not change the reality of the city of Jerusalem and will not give any legitimacy to the Israelis on this issue. We will achieve national independence.”

Meanwhile, Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Trump "has disqualified his country from any possible role in the peace process" and "destroyed any possibility of peace" between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deemed it a “historic day.” However, reports have emerged from Israeli media stated that defense officials are reportedly bracing for violent protests and terror attacks.

Assessment

Our assessment is that Trump’s decision is likely to upend the delicate balance struck in Middle East over the Jerusalem. This will incite more terror attacks and violence. Moderates within Israel have long endorsed a Two State Solution when it comes to Israel and Palestine. Will this spark conflict? Is the Third Intifada upon the region?  We believe that Trump has primarily done this to deflect attention on the various investigations that are going against him and his immediate family.

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