On Wednesday, December 6, 2017 President Trump announced that the United States of America officially recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He also called for the United States State Department to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. People all over the world have had very strong reactions to this announcement.
Where is Jerusalem?
It lies by the Arab State of Palestine and the Jewish State of Israel. Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities and is perhaps the most sensitive land on our planet. It has been conquered, destroyed and rebuilt time and again. Over its long history, different groups of people have controlled this land.
Why is Jerusalem special?
Jerusalem is considered to be a holy city by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike. This city is the historical hub of all three religions and their sacred sites stand in the Old City of Jerusalem.
What is controversial about Jerusalem?
Palestinian people once owned land there. Israel claims this land as well. Both Jews and Muslims consider the city of Jerusalem sacred. This is one of the core issues in the ages old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
What is the history behind this?
World War II was a horrific time for the Jewish people. After the War ended, the United Nations in 1947 agreed that the Jewish people should have a land of their own, and came up with a plan to divide Palestinian territory into Jewish and Palestinian Arab states. This area was decided upon as Jerusalem is important to the Jewish faith. This decision was opposed by the Palestinians and Arabs who felt that it was a deep injustice to ignore the rights of the majority of the population of Palestine and thus began decades of conflict.
In 1947, the United Nations also declared Jerusalem an international city belonging to no one. What does that mean? This city was supposed to belong to no country. Israel’s government has been in West Jerusalem since the state’s founding in 1948.
In the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, Israel drove Jordan back from East Jerusalem and occupied the whole city.
What was the Arab-Israeli war?
There were two big wars between the Israelis and the the Arab states such as Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. These were fought in 1948 and 1967. The coalition of Arab states attacked Israel because they didn’t accept the partition of Palestinian territory. They were all defeated, and in fact lost more territory to Israel during this process.
Back to Jerusalem:
Both Israel and Palestine claim Jerusalem as their national capital. All other countries and the United Nations say that West Jerusalem is part of Israel and that East Jerusalem is Palestinian. Because it is not considered to belong to any country at the moment, the city has no embassies. Most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv (Israeli part) and Ramallah (Palestinian part).
Why is President Trump’s decision so important?
So far, the United States, like most of the world, had withheld formal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital pending a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians that would fairly resolve all major disputes.
President Trump’s decision is important because Israel believes it gives credibility to their claim over most of what was Palestine.
What is the reaction worldwide?
Many Muslim leaders have criticized the decision and urge the world to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state. At the United Nations in Brussels, most leaders of the European Union have rejected the idea of following Mr. Trump’s lead till a peaceful settlement is reached between the 2 countries.