Most of friends and foes oppose the move
US President Donald Trump is creating history on Wednesday when he formally recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and direct Department of State to begin process to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Announcement is expected at 1800 hrs GMT (23.30 IST).
Trump’s move comes at a time when world community, all regional countries, friends and foes have warned White House that it will undermine regional stability and affect the already tattered peace process.
Reports, quoting a senior administration official, from Washington, say that President will sign a waiver delaying the embassy move for another six months to comply with the law. The process is expected to take years before the embassy will really be shifted to the new address. Earlier he has signed similar waiver for once.
The US officials call the move “recognition of reality” as Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government. They have justified the move saying that the decision would have no impact on the boundaries of the future Israeli and Palestinian states as negotiated under a final status agreement.
According to CNN, the senior official who briefed the media persons on Tuesday, has rejected suggestions that the move would hurt the peace process. But he could not either offer any argument that it would help the peace process. He chose to counter the questioner saying that keeping US embassy in Tel Aviv, despite legislation calling for a move to Jerusalem, had not advanced peace process in more than two decades either.
“It seems clear now that the physical location of the American embassy is not material to a peace deal. It’s not an impediment to peace and it’s not a facilitator to peace,” the administration official said. “After having tried this for 22 years, an acknowledgment of reality seems like an important thing,” he added.
The decision to move US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by Trump administration is not only opposed by its traditional opponents in the region but their closest allies.
Spokesman for Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General told reporters in New York that he has “consistently warned against any unilateral action that would have the potential to undermine the two-state solution”.
The European allies, who are closer to the Israel-Palestine theatre have expressed equal concern about the US move.
EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini, who recently took clear stand against Trump’s decision to withdraw from Iranian nuclear deal, said “any action that would undermine” peace efforts to create two separate states for the Israelis and the Palestinians “must absolutely be avoided.”
German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel also warned that recognition of Jerusalem by US “as the capital of Israel does not calm a conflict, rather it fuels it even more,” and such a move “would be a very dangerous development.”
Meanwhile President Donald Trump called Palestinian President Mehmoud Abbas and other Arab leaders to inform about his intended announcement. The US president was warned by the regional leaders about the “dangerous consequences” it would have on the regional stability.
According to Nabil Abu Rudeina, the spokesman for head of the Palestinian Authority, “President Abbas warned of the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world”.
Jordanian President’s palace statement says that King Abdullah II has told Trump that the move would have “dangerous repercussions on the stability and security of the region”. It further said, “Jerusalem is the key to achieving peace and stability in the region and the world”.
He also warned about the risks of any decision that amounts to be against final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict based on the creation of independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem.
A statement issued by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has also cautioned US administration against “taking measures that would undermine the chances of peace in the Middle East”. He affirmed Egyptian position on preserving the legal status of Jerusalem with the framework of international references and relevant UN resolutions.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, who hosted Trump for his maiden overseas visit facilitating his meeting with more than 50 heads of states earlier this year, has told US, that “any American announcement regarding the situation of Jerusalem prior to reaching a permanent settlement will harm peace talks and increase tensions in the area”.
King Salman has reportedly further said, “Such a dangerous step is likely to inflame the passions of Muslims around the world due to the great status of Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa mosque”.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reacted to proposed US move by threatening to severe diplomatic ties with Israel. He said, “Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims. We implore the US once again: You cannot take this step.”
Palestinian Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that the decision by the Trump administration will “[ignite] the spark of rage against the occupation”, and that relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem “breaks red lines”.
Haniyeh called Palestinian Authority President Mehmoud Abbas and both leaders agreed to hold a mass protest on Wednesday in the occupied territories against the US move. It is the rare occasion when Mehmoud Abbas, who is considered to be a US ally by most observers has joined hands with Hamas for the anti-US protest.
Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul-Gheit has also warned the US not to take any measures that would affect Jerusalem’s current legal status. While speaking at a meeting in Cairo he said US decision is a “dangerous measure that would have repercussions” across the entire region.
Currently there is no foreign embassy in Jerusalem. World community does not recognise Israel’s jurisdiction over land and ownership of the city.
Meanwhile, Tehran based Press TV commented on the Saudi Arabia’s reaction to US move saying, “In an attempt to portray itself as a defender of the Palestinian cause, Saudi Arabia has joined a chorus of condemnation of a contentious plan by US President Donald Trump to relocate Washington’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.”
It reminded recent disclosure by Lebanese al-Akhbar newspaper about a secret letter from Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman putting forward “a plan to normalize ties with Israel despite “risks” of a public backlash.
There are no diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Some reports were published in Middle East that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has secretly visited Israel in recent months.
It has been difficult for Saudi rulers to balance between their projected image of being “the custodian of two grand mosques” and having ties with Israel. However, recently Israeli officials have declared about their relations with several Arab countries including Saudi Arabia. Egypt, Jordan and Turkey maintain diplomatic ties with Israel.