The recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by President Donald Trump is being interpreted as deliberate provocation. The decision has not only been criticised by UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres, Pope Francis and European Union but even by one of the US’ closest allies in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia. It has landed the Gulf Sheikhdoms in a lurch and in a way vindicated the stand of Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. Mahmoud Abbas, the President of Palestinian Authority, which is in all practical purposes an Israeli Authority, as Palestinians have hardly any say on it, has also denounced Trump’s action.
The reason for global condemnation is obvious as East Jerusalem is considered as occupied territory. Even the UN resolution recognises it as so.
One can trace the origin of the dispute at the time of creation of Israel on May 14, 1948. The neighbouring Arabs opposed it but Israel, which was backed by the West, managed to retain its ground. When the fighting ended after several months, Israel had occupied West Jerusalem. East Jerusalem, the other half of the city remained in the hands of Jordan. Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, is situated here. So are the Wailing Wall and the Temple Mount. Thus, East Jerusalem in particular, is important for all the three Semitic religions—Islam, Judaism and Christianity. That is why there is also a call for making Jerusalem the joint capital of Israel and Palestine.
However, in the Six Day War of 1967 (5-10 June), Israel occupied East Jerusalem. It also snatched Golan Heights from Syria and Sinai from Egypt. Though East Jerusalem has 90 per cent Palestinian population (which includes some Christians too), Israel has built thousands of houses and has settled new Jewish migrants here. After the Oslo Accord of 1993, it was planned to create a Palestinian Authority (PA)—not a full-fledged country of course. Neither the Palestinian Authority nor Gaza was allowed to have its army. Yet the idea of two nations (Israel and Palestine) appeared to be in sight. But that was never to be as the rightists and extremists in the Israeli establishment never recognised the Oslo Accord. The then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995 by a Jewish extremist named Yigal Amir.
By recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Trump has fulfilled his poll promise. None of the countries of the world has dared to do so. He has done so at a time when US allies in the Middle East are on retreat and North Korea already posing trouble in the Far East. Mark it, China has announced that in that case it would recognise East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.
Sarim Ahmed is a trainee journalist associated with ‘The Morning Chronicle’. International affairs is his one of the favourite subjects. If you like this piece, do not hesitate to appreciate Sarim at email@example.com.