Politics

Middle East on High Alert After Trump Announces Plans to Move US Embassy to Jerusalem

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President Trump has shaken up decades of foreign policy in the Middle East as he hints to regional leaders that his administration will officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The move, though symbolic, has angered world leaders in the region, and threatens the fragile negotiations between Palestine and Israel.

The decision will likely be announced formally on Wednesday, though the President has talked with regional leaders already. Along with the recognition of Jerusalem, Trump also plans to move the United States’ embassy to Jerusalem.

“Palestinian officials said Mr. Trump told the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, that the United States would move the embassy to Jerusalem,” The New York Times reports. “Jordan said the president gave a similar message to King Abdullah II.”

Moving the embassy will take time. “As a result,” the Times reports, “Mr. Trump is expected to sign a national security waiver that would authorize the administration to keep it in Tel Aviv for an additional six months.”

There seems to be very little support for the move outside of Israel.

King Abdullah II of Aman released a statement  “stressing that Jerusalem is the key to achieving peace and stability in the region and the world.”

“King Abdullah stressed that the adoption of this resolution will have serious implications for security and stability in the Middle East, and will undermine the efforts of the American administration to resume the peace process and fuel the feelings of Muslims and Christians,” the statement read.

The crux of the issue is Palestine’s claim to Jerusalem. The country wants East Jerusalem to be recognized as their capital.

“It’s very serious,” said Palestinian spokesman, Xavier Abu Eid. “Things look very bad.”

President Trump has offered to continue negotiating the peace process. He has invited Palestinian leaders to Washington to discuss their concerns.

“In his phone calls with Arab leaders,” the Times notes, “Mr. Trump is making the case that settling the question of the American Embassy could actually hasten the peace process by removing a thorny political issue that recurs every six months.”

“Though Israel houses its parliament, president, prime minister and most ministries in Jerusalem, and Israelis overwhelmingly want the world to acknowledge the Holy City as their seat of government,” the Times explains, “the international community recognizes de facto Israeli sovereignty only in West Jerusalem.”

The two sides of Jerusalem have been overseen by Israel since the end of the Arab-Israeli war in 1967. It has been a contentious subject ever since.