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On Wednesday, President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, announcing plans to move the US Embassy there. President Trump stated that after two decades of no progress towards a peace agreement between the Israeli and Palestinians, it was time for the decision to be made. “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do,” he stated from the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room.
The move has come despite warnings from leaders around the world such as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, British PM Theresa May, French president, Emmanuel Macron and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that such a decision would detriment the security and the stability of the area. UN secretary general António Guterres condemns the actions of Trump stating that “…there is no alternative to the two-state solution…There is no plan B.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu however has welcomed the decision and calls on other countries to do the same. “The President’s decision is an important step towards peace, for there is no peace that doesn’t include Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu stated.
The embassy is currently located in Tel-Aviv and the move could take years, but how did it get to this point? In 1995 the US government passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which ordered the transfer of the diplomatic mission from Tel-Aviv. A six month waiver clause was implemented into the act, allowing the transfer to be delayed for security concerns. Since 1995 policies towards the conflict has sought for a peaceful two-state solution with Presidents continuing to sign the waiver. President Trump however made recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a campaign election promise in his run for Presidency.
The history of the conflict between the Israeli and the Palestinians is decades long, marked by mistrust on either side. The main root of the conflict is land and where should the boundaries of each country lay? The Palestinians want their state to include the West Bank and East Jerusalem which clashes with the Israelis who want to push the West Bank border more east and argue against East Jerusalem being the capital of Palestine. In summary – both want Israel. The Israeli also fear that a Palestinian state would present a security threat in the future while Palestinians claim that the Israelis won’t recognize their land rights and rights to govern. A two-state solution would see the creation of two separate countries that co-exist peacefully.
The issue that arises with the decision to relocate the Embassy is that such a move has long been viewed as a final one, that it kills any hopes for a peaceful two-state solution. While President Trump has been adamant that this is not the intention of such a decision claiming that “this is a long overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement” it remains unclear as to how this would fairly assist the Palestinians.