In a first, US to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital
President Donald Trump is reportedly soon going to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, making the US the first country to do so. This comes amid reports that Trump is expected to deliver an important speech today. However, Washington might not shift its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem right away. The announcement has enraged all major Arab and Islamic countries. Here's why.
Tel Aviv: Where the embassies are
Since the birth of Israel in 1948, no country, including its most powerful ally America, has recognized Jerusalem as its capital. The US along with other countries have instead set up embassies in Tel Aviv as they don't recognize Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem.
The status of Jerusalem
Jerusalem is home to religious sites considered holy by Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Its current status is extremely contentious. While Israel considers it its capital, Palestinians envision East Jerusalem as the capital of their own independent state that may/may not materialize in the future. Moreover, Israel has built illegal Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, outraging Palestine and the Arab-Islamic countries which back Palestine.
What has the Trump administration announced?
Trump administration officials reveal that the president views acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel's capital as a "recognition of reality." They clarified that Jerusalem's boundaries will be decided by a final Israel-Palestine status agreement. They said that the status of holy sites won't be affected. Trump is also likely to initiate the process to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, although this could take several years.
Islamic world reacts angrily to Trump's coming announcement
Ahead of confirmation on Washington's move, Saudi Arabia's King Salman stated that the recognition of Jerusalem as capital and moving the embassy "would constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims, worldwide." Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has urged Trump to "not complicate the situation in the region." Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Istanbul would "cut ties with Israel" if Jerusalem was recognized capital.
Trump's recognition of Israel: What does it mean?
During his presidential campaign, Trump promised pro-Israel voters that he would move the US embassy to Jerusalem. He could simply be fulfilling this promise. Trump could also be trying to prove to Israel that the US has its back possibly for something in return. It is possible there is a wider strategy at work, although the announcement seems like a shot in the dark.