Devon C. Brandt SSA Scholarship 22 December 2017 Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem Having spent a month in Israel has provided me a perspective that one cannot simply get by reading the news or watching TV. While the journey had many extraordinary moments, the most impactful experience occurred just hours after stepping off the plane. Walking to the top of Mount Scopus, we looked over Jerusalem and viewed in the distance the Western Wall sitting just below the Dome of the Rock, two incredible symbols of diversity that dominate the landscape. The decision by President Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem implies that this holy city belongs exclusively to Israel and delegitimizes Palestinian claims to east Jerusalem as a future capital. This commitment has significantly hindered America’s ability to serve as an impartial and fair partner in the on-going peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine while also breaking years of precedent set by prior administrations, and every other country with embassies in Israel. In addition to having political consequences, Israel has been struck with a new wave of strife which puts citizens and visitors in harms way.
Since the establishment of Israel in 1948, the international community has declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, yet have abstained from moving their embassies from Tel Aviv. By signaling the intent to move our embassy, years of precedent have been disregarded. “Trump’s decision upended seven decades of US foreign policy that has resisted a recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.” (Fareed Zakaria's
Global Analysis). On the surface, the decision by Trump may appear to be a political gesture to show support of Israel, however if you scratch the surface, serious issues with his plan are uncovered. Perhaps the most ongoing cause of tension between Israel and Palestine is the debate on a two-state solution. The main reason countries have refrained from moving their embassies to Jerusalem is to keep the status of the city as a negotiation tool in the search for a diplomatic resolution and a peaceful transition to a two state solution. Trumps decision puts America’s role as a trusted global negotiator at risk, while having no positive implications for the peace process. ”President Trump just destroyed any policy of a two-state (solution), He has taken an action to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This is in total contradiction of agreements signed between Palestinians and Israelis.” (Saeb Erakat, Palestinian negotiator). Since 2006, 86 countries have had their foreign embassies in Tel Aviv while none have had them in Jerusalem; on this issue America stands alone in the global diplomatic community. A strong indication of this diplomatic isolation is the recent U.N. General Assembly vote condemning this move by the US by a margin of 129 to 9 with 35 abstentions.
Another disturbing consequence of the President’s decision to move the embassy has been the violence that has since ensued. Just one day after Trump’s announcement, over 100 people were injured in a violent outbreak between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers. In April of this year, I’ll be traveling to Poland and Israel to join other teens from around the world to “study the history of the Holocaust and to examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hatred”. On my previous visit to Israel, I felt safe walking through Israeli and Palestinian neighborhoods alike. With Trump’s recent commitment, I fear for my safety, but more-so, for the
safety of those living in Israel and the West Bank. I only hope that the view I found so appealing continues to embody the spirit of inclusion rather than the temper of hate.
International March of the Living, motl.org/.
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Diamond, Jeremy, and Elise Labott. “Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital.” CNN, Cable News Network, 6 Dec. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/12/06/politics/president-donald-trumpjerusalem/index.html.
“Jerusalem Palestinians still seek Israeli citizenship despite Trump declaration.” KSDK, 15 Dec. 2017, www.ksdk.com/mobile/article/news/nation-now/jerusalem-palestinians-still-seek-israelicitizenship-despite-trump-declaration/465-0decf639-5d59-4b6e-82c1-0c6fb806e912.
Liebermann, Oren. “Why declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel is so controversial.” CNN, Cable News Network, 7 Dec. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/12/05/middleeast/trump-jerusalem-explainer-intl/index.html.
Morris, Loveday, and Ruth Eglash. “Palestinians clash with Israeli troops ahead of 'day of rage' at Trump's Jerusalem move.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 7 Dec. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/world/hamas-calls-for-uprising-as-palestinians-protest-trumps-jerusalem-stance/ 2017/12/07/ecee91e0-daca-11e7-a241-0848315642d0_story.html?utm_term=.0bb969ee9a4b.
This is a research essay regarding the recent decision to move to US embassy to Jerusalem.