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International community reacts to possible relocation of US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
Marc Zell, co-chair of Republicans Overseas Israel, visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on November 9, 2016, a day after US Republican president candidate Donald Trump won the 2016 US election. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
On 22JAN, outlets reported that newly inaugurated US President Donald Trump was considering how he would move the US embassy in Israel from the internationally recognized capital of Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Israel considers its rightful capital. Throughout his campaign, Trump promised he would move the embassy, a popular position in much of the Republican party. Historically, the international community has recognized Tel Aviv instead of Jerusalem to avoid the competing claims of the Israelis and Palestinians, who both claim the city should be their capital. Recognizing Tel Aviv has been traditionally seen as an important factor in finding a two state solution for the Palestinian crisis. While Trump’s position has been popular with right wing Israeli and American politicians, most of the international community has expressed doubts and concerns about the move. Middle Eastern countries, many of which have large Arab populations sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, have expressed outrage at the idea that Jerusalem might be recognized as Israel’s capital, as Jerusalem is a very important historical site in the Muslim faith, as it is for Judaism and Christianity. Palestinian groups, including Hamas and the PLO have publicly protested the proposed move.
News summary of events during the week of 23JAN17 – 30JAN17
- 23JAN: In a phone call, US President Trump invited Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for talks in February, though the White House statement did not mention whether the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be on the agenda. (AFP)
- 23JAN: The Trump administration stated there have been no decisions on the issue of relocating the American embassy in Israel. (Reuters)
- 24JAN: Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr declared that moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be a declaration of war on Islam. (AFP)
- 24JAN: Hamas warned the US against moving its embassy to Jerusalem, saying such a step could unleash new violence. (AP)
- 26JAN: Israeli officials gave final approval Thursday to 153 east Jerusalem settler homes, the deputy mayor said, adding to a sharp increase in such projects since US President Donald Trump took office. (AFP)
- 26 JAN: The Palestine Liberation Organization’s chief negotiator stated that the PLO will revoke its recognition of Israel if President Trump moves the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (CNN)
- 26JAN: The Jordanian embassy announced that King Abdullah will begin a visit to the United States on 31JAN, where he is likely to discuss the proposed embassy move in his role as custodian of the Muslim sacred sites in Jerusalem. (Reuters)
- 27JAN: Trump’s nominee for American ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has said he looks forward to working “from the US Embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem,”. (Newsweek)
- 29JAN: Israel tried to walk away from a diplomatic fiasco with Mexico after PM Netanyahu Tweeted support to the building of the US-Mexican wall. (EFE)
- 29JAN: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for US President Donald Trump to make good on his campaign pledge to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (AFP)
- 29JAN: An Arab League official said the organization hopes US President Donald Trump will retract his campaign pledge to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (AFP)
- 30JAN: Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray reportedly called on Netanyahu to apologize, saying his comments “felt like an act of aggression.” (AFP)
- 30JAN: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied Monday he had harmed relations with Mexico when he tweeted support for Trump’s planned border wall, accusing the “leftist media” of “Bolshevik” attacks. (AFP)
Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about
- @frankgaffney – Frank Gaffney, founder and President of the Center for Security Policy and host of Secure Freedom Radio
- @camanpour – Christiane Amanpour, CNN Correspondent
- @JakeSherman – Jake Sherman, POLITICO senior writer. Co-author of Politico Playbook.
- @lrozen – Laura Rozen, Reporter for Al Monitor
- @BroderJonathan – Jonathan Broder, Washington-based senior writer for Newsweek, covering national security
Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the
Aaron David Miller, a former adviser to six secretaries of state on the Middle East peace process
“The jihadis and the Iranians would exploit the hell out of it,” “You’d have Sunni and Shia radicals both waging holy war against the Israelis and the United States.”
- “Why Trump Won’t Move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem—at Least for Now”, Newsweek, 25JAN17
Jim Phillips, expert on the Middle East at the Heritage Foundation
“It would bolster Israel, the closest U.S. ally in the Middle East, but it also may make it harder for some Arab governments to openly cooperate with the U.S. on some security issues because it is likely to trigger a spasm of anti-American protests and riots,”
- “Has Trump Abandoned or Delayed the Israel Embassy Switch?”, Newsweek, 27JAN17
Yossi Alpher, independent Israeli security analyst
“Could there be a full-fledged Palestinian intifada, or could we see rocket attacks from Gaza?” said. “Things are bad enough as it is, and in that sense this could be the spark.”
- “Trump’s US embassy pledge fires emotion over Jerusalem”, Financial Times, 23JAN17
Thomas Pickering, former US Ambassador to Israel
“By suggesting that it might move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the Trump administration has not made the best start to addressing [obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian peace]. But should the move happen, it could be balanced by establishing another US Embassy — or a special mission — to the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, pending US recognition of their state as negotiations proceed.”
- “Could the US have two embassies in Jerusalem?”, CNN, 26JAN17
Johnny Assi, lecturer at Birzeit University (Palestine) and Research Fellow at the Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy
“ The reaction to the [relocation of the US embassy] might resemble that of the first intifada.”
- “Palestinians worry U.S. embassy move will counter peace efforts”, UPI, 23JAN2017
Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the
- Trump Presidency Is Already Altering Israeli-Palestinian Politics
Media: New York Times
Byline: IAN FISHER
Date: 22 January 2017
JERUSALEM — Just two days old, the presidency of Donald J. Trump is already reshaping the politics between Israelis and Palestinians, on issues from the location of the American Embassy to possible annexation of a major settlement bloc to whether Palestinians are on the edge of a renewed revolt.
Sunday was a day of intense maneuvering on all sides, with an elation among many Israelis that the rancorous relations with the Obama administration were over — but with questions about just how far or how quickly Mr. Trump would go on moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a quandary that has bedeviled American presidents for decades.
Palestinian and Arab leaders girded for the changes that the new administration in Washington might bring. On Sunday, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, met in Jordan with King Abdullah II, and both leaders repeated their staunch opposition to the embassy move.
The men did not release details of any plans for a coordinated reaction, but both have warned of renewed violence if the move happens. The Palestinian leadership has indicated it would revoke its recognition of Israel, considered the first condition by Israelis for negotiations on a two-state solution — a possibility that seems remote at the moment in any case.
- Editorial: Has Trump come to his senses on moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem?
Media: Los Angeles Times
Date: 24 January 2017
It’s beginning to look as if President Trump is having second thoughts about his campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. If so, he will be following in the footsteps of his predecessors — and putting the national interest above politics.
Trump wasn’t the first presidential candidate to promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem, but his commitment has been taken more seriously than those of past candidates. David Friedman, Trump’s choice for ambassador to Israel, has said that he looks forward to performing his service “from the U.S. Embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
Yet when he was asked Monday about plans for moving the embassy, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said: “There’s no decisions. We’re at the very early stages of that decision-making process.” When a reporter pressed him about whether the embassy will have been moved to Jerusalem by the end of Trump’s four-year term, Spicer replied: “If it was already a decision, then we wouldn’t be going through a process.”
- Arab League hopes Trump will reconsider Jerusalem vow
Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 29 January 2017
Cairo, Jan 29, 2017 (AFP) – An Arab League official said Sunday the organisation hopes US President Donald Trump will retract his campaign pledge to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“The position expressed by President Trump while campaigning needs to be more cautious,” Assistant Secretary General for Palestinian Affairs Said Abu Ali told reporters in Cairo.
Departing from Washington’s long-standing position, Trump promised to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the American mission there, a vow that drew a fierce rebuke from Palestinian officials and concern from the European Union.
- Netanyahu presses Trump on US embassy move
Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 29 January 2017
Jerusalem, Jan 29, 2017 (AFP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called for US President Donald Trump to make good on his campaign pledge to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Departing from a long-standing US position, Trump promised he would recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the American mission there, a pledge that drew a fierce rebuke from Palestinian officials and concern from the European Union.
- Israel approves 153 more east Jerusalem settler homes
Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 26 January 2017
Jerusalem, Jan 26, 2017 (AFP) – Israeli officials gave final approval Thursday to 153 east Jerusalem settler homes, the deputy mayor said, adding to a sharp increase in such projects since US President Donald Trump took office.
Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman told AFP the approvals by a city planning committee were among those held up due to pressure from former US president Barack Obama’s administration.