Jerusalem – Trump bows to Israel, breaks international neutrality about the Holy City and isolates the United States

Reactions from the US allies. Even the Union for Reform Judaism in the United States says recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is “ill-timed”

“It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Mr Trump dixit, consistently in line with its electoral provocations to the Islamic world and its subjection to the Jewish Entity. “We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem,” he had told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference last year.

Here are some of the international reactions.

Āyatollāh  Sayyed ‘Alī Khāmene’i, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, reacted this way: “It is out of despair and debility that they want to declare AlQuds as capital of the Zionist regime. On issue of Palestine, their hands are tied and they can’t achieve their goals. Victory belongs to Islamic Umma. Palestine will be free. Palestinian nation will achieve victory.” He added that US intention to move embassy to Jerusalem is sign of “incompetence and failure.”

King ʿAbdullāh II of Jordan [photo below], the custodian of the Muslim holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem, said in Ankara on Wednesday that the White House shift on Jerusalem “will undermine the efforts of the American administration to resume the peace process”…Such a decision would have “dangerous repercussions on the stability and security of the region” and would obstruct US efforts to resume Arab-Israeli peace talks. He added there was no alternative to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The King said it is “imperative to work fast to reach a final status solution and a peace agreement,” while adding that such an agreement must allow for an independent Palestinian state. “Ignoring Palestinian Muslim and Christian rights” in Jerusalem “could fuel terrorism.”

King Salmān bin ʿAbd al-ʿA zīz as-Saʿūd of Saudi Arabia was reported to have told Trump in their telephone conversation: “Such a dangerous step is likely to inflame the passions of Muslims around the world due to the great status of Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque,” according to the Saudi Press Agency. Declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “would constitute a flagrant provocation to all Muslims, all over the world,” the King said. Any US declaration on Jerusalem’s status ahead of a peace deal “would harm peace negotiation process and escalate tension in the region.” Also the Saudi foreign ministry issued a statement, saying the move would “provoke sentiments of Muslims throughout world.”

Pope Francis, who met earlier Wednesday at the Vatican with a Palestinian delegation, voiced his own opposition to the U.S. shift in Israel: “My thoughts now turn to Jerusalem. In this regard, I cannot remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has developed in recent days and, at the same time, to make a heartfelt appeal to ensure everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant Resolutions of the United Nations.” “I pray to the Lord that its identity is preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world and that wisdom and prudence prevail to prevent new elements of tension from being added to a global context already convulsed by so many cruel conflicts.”

Ismā’īl Haniyeh, Ḥamās politburo chief, told Al Jazeera TV that “our Palestinian people will have a suitable response. As a people, we cannot accept this American pattern.” According to an AP report, he said the embassy move “breaks red lines” for his group and that Trump’s announcement would ignite “the spark of rage against the occupation.” Prof. Ṣalāḥ al-Bardawil, a senior Ḥamās official, said the Palestinians were “on a dangerous crossroad today; we either remain or perish.” He added that “Trump or anyone thinking that our people, nation and resistance are unable to push back his plans is wrong.” As a result, Ḥamās called for Palestinians “to make Friday a day of rage against the occupation, rejecting moving the American embassy to Jerusalem and declaring it the capital of a Zionist entity”.

Palestinian President Maḥmud ‘Abbās already after Trump’s call warned him against “the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world,” Nabil Abū Rudeina, his spokesman said in a statement. On Wednesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Rāmī Ḥamdallāh urged European countries to recognize a state of Palestine on the lands captured by Israel in 1967. He also said the US recognising Jerusalem “will fuel conflict and increase violence in the entire region” and is bound to “destroy the peace process and the two-state solution.” Manuel Sarkis Hassassian, a Palestinian-Armenian professor who is the Palestinian envoy to the United Kingdom, told BBC radio on Wednesday that moving the embassy to Jerusalem is “a kiss of death to the two-state solution.” “He is declaring war in the Middle East, he is declaring war against 1.5 billion Muslims and hundreds of millions of Christians that are not going to accept the Holy Shrines to be totally under the hegemony of Israel,” he said in his interview.

Turkey says recognition plunges region and world “into a fire with no end in sight”. Earlier on Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told his Parliament such recognition was a “red line” for Muslims and said Turkey could respond by cutting diplomatic ties with Israel. On Wednesday, ahead of a meeting in Brussels with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu [with President Erdoğan in the above photo] told reporters: “It would be a grave mistake [to move the US embassy]. It will bring chaos to the region, not stability and peace. Turkey’s stance is clear. It is not only the Muslim world who is against it, it is the whole world. I told this to Tillerson before, I will repeat it.”

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Egypt’s President ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Ḫalīl as-Sīsī also cautioned Trump against “taking measures that would undermine the chances of peace in the Middle East” and he had pushed the U.S. not to relocate the embassy. Also Shaykh Aḥmad Muḥammad Aḥmad aṭ-Ṭayyib, Grand Imām of Egypt’s al-Azhar Mosque, one of Islam most important institutions, has hit out at President Trump’s plans: “It incites feelings of anger among all Muslims and threatens world peace,” he said. “The gates of hell will be opened in the West before the East,” he added, warning of the possible reaction.

The Organisation for Islamic Cooperation issued a statement on Monday saying its 57 member states should sever ties with any state that transfers its embassy to Jerusalem or recognises Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem.

Aḥmad Abū l-Ġaiṭ [photo below], Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, said the US decision constituted an “unjustified provocation” for Arabs and a “blow” to Arab-American relations and to the American role as a mediator between Israelis and Palestinians. He also says it would be a “violation” of UN resolutions and international law.

U.N. Secretary-General António de Oliveira Guterres, through a spokesman, said he opposes any action that would hurt a two-state solution.

Meeting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Brussels, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, made clear that Europe saw the President’s announcement as a threat to peace in the Middle East. “We believe that any action that would undermine these efforts must absolutely be avoided,” she said. “A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as a future capital of both states.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the UK’s position on Jerusalem continues to be that “the status of Jerusalem should be determined in a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians” and “ultimately should form a shared capital” between a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian state. Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Theresa May added: “We continue to support a two-state solution.” The British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also expressed concern and called on the US to present its Middle East peace plan quickly.

French President Emmanuel Macron [photo below by European Council] called Trump’s Jerusalem policy a “regrettable decision.” Speaking in Algiers, Macron said France does not approve of the decision, which “contravenes international law” and that Jerusalem should be determined through negotiations on setting up an independent Palestine alongside Israel.

Bolivian UN Ambassador Sacha Sergio Llorenty Soliz said it would be a “reckless and a dangerous decision that goes against international law, the resolutions of the Security Council, it also weakens any effort for peace in the region and also upsets the whole region.”

John Owen  Brennan, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said in a statement that Trump’s action was “reckless” and would “damage U.S. interests in the Middle East for years to come and will make the region more volatile.”

Many stances against Trump’s provocative positions came from representatives of political organizations.

Martin Schulz, the leader of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) and a supporter of a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, said Donald Trump is undermining international stability with his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there. He said Trump’s decision, taken despite warnings from a wide range of US allies, risked setting back the peace process in the Middle East.

Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee member, told CNN that Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel “means the death knell of any peace process and the destruction of the chances of peace in the region…In one blow, President Trump has destroyed not only the chances of peace but also the stability and security of the region as a whole. He has undermined his closest allies and the Arab world, has also taken a position that is absolutely illegal and in violation of international law,” Ashrawi said. “He has disqualified the US, sadly, from playing any role in peace-making, and at the same time he has given all extremists and nuts all over the world who are ready to commit acts of violence a ready-made excuse, the perfect excuse, because he has provoked spiritual sentiments, religious feelings, to the point where we don’t know how far the ramifications will go. This is something that is the height of folly, it is the epitome of irresponsibility, frankly.”

Muṣṭafā al-Barġūṯī, a Palestinian politician in the West Bank, warned that the “Arabs and Muslims will not take this lying down”. “The Palestinian people will react, with a public, popular, non-violent uprising,” he told Al Jazeera earlier on Tuesday. “That’s what you will see tomorrow, after tomorrow and the days after,” he added.

Shaykh ʿAbdullāh al-Qam, the coordinator of a Jerusalem committee representing Palestinian factions in East Jerusalem and a leader during the First Intifāḍa, said: “This will harm America because they present themselves as fair broker between Israelis and Palestinians…This will only encourage extremism. It will encourage IS. Over one billion Muslims are asking why he is taking this step.”

Raja Muḥammad Zafar-ul-Ḥaq,Chairman of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League led by Nawaz Sharif, urged for speedy pressure on the US President to “refrain from complicating the Palestine issue instead taking steps to resolve it” and Mawlana Samī-ul-Ḥaq, Chairman of Difa-e-Pakistan Council (an umbrella coalition of more than 40 Pakistani political and religious parties),  described Trump as an “evil man” and urged the Muslim world to stop him from insulting Palestinians.

Even the Christian world mobilized in defense of the international status of Jerusalem. A letter was signed by all of the city’s major church figures, including Theophilos III, Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, and Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Roman Catholic Apostolic Administrator of Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. They said that Trump’s steps will mean “increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land.” Their letter asked Trump to walk toward “more love and a definitive peace” by continuing to recognize the international status of Jerusalem. And they said that “any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm.”

For his part, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the New York City-based Union for Reform Judaism, said in a statement that while the reform movement believes “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people” and the U.S. Embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, now is not the time. He said the relocation should be done in the broader context reflecting Jerusalem’s status as a city holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims: “We cannot support his decision to begin preparing that move now, absent a comprehensive plan for a peace process.”

Entire front page of Beirut’s Daily Star

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