Jerusalem row: Donald Trump’s big move of shifting US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the controversial city of Jerusalem has shocked the world. While Israel has hailed the move, countries like UK and France have strongly rejected it. United Nations Security Council has convened an urgent meeting to deliberate on the issue. India today said its position on Palestine is independent, consistent and not determined by any third country. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India’s position on Palestine is shaped by its own views and interests and not determined by any third country. “India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country,” he said responding to a query regarding India’s position on recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by the US. But why is this shift creating such a big ruckus in the global corridors of power? Read on to find out:
Jerusalem – the bone of contention
The status of Jerusalem, which is home to sites holy to Jewish, Muslim and Christian religions, is reportedly one of the biggest obstacles to reaching a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinians want the capital of an independent state of theirs to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move never recognized internationally. It has been learnt that the international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire city, believing its status should be resolved via negotiations with Palestine. Significantly, no other country has its embassy in Jerusalem. Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there.
Implication of Donald Trump’s move
Trump’s decision fulfills a campaign promise and will please Republican conservatives and evangelicals who make up a sizeable portion of his domestic support. However, Trump’s decision risks further inflaming a region already grappling with conflict in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Protests have already broken out in areas of Jordan’s capital, Amman, inhabited by Palestinian refugees, and several hundred protesters gathered outside the US consulate in Istanbul.
Timing of the Trump’s move
Earlier in 1995, during Bill Clinton’s Presidential tenure, US Congress had passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act. This Act recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The law was followed domestically by Clinton, George Bush Jr and Barack Obama but even they did not enforce it keeping in mind the international realities. What used to happen is that US Presidents used to sign a waiver every six months, deferring the decision to move the embassy. However, during the US Presidential Elections campaign, Trump promised to implement the Jerusalem Embassy Act. Speculation that he was close to delivering arose after he missed two deadlines to sign the waiver.
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What does Trump seek to gain?
He no doubt seeks to please his core base of pro-Israel hardliners. But as with most political developments in the Middle East, a bigger regional game could be afoot, including, possibly, a US-Saudi-Israel alliance against Iran, the common enemy, according to reports.