Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has sparked outrage around the world. The Palestinian ambassador to London claims Trump’s move amounts to ‘declaring war on 1.5 billion Muslims’, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has warned that the US could ‘plunge the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight’.
But why all the fuss? According to many of Israel’s supporters, it’s no secret that Jerusalem has been the de facto capital of Israel since its creation. Jerusalem is home to Israel’s Parliament and Supreme Court. It’s where both the Israeli Prime Minister and the President reside. But more than that, Jerusalem has been the spiritual and cultural capital of the Jewish people for thousands of years. Sure, there might be some disputes over a few neighbourhoods and holy sites. But every other country across the globe has the right to choose their own capital. Why not the world’s only Jewish state?
Others warn, however, that symbolic recognition of Jerusalem would be a mortal blow for the currently frozen Israeli-Palestinian peace process. According to the 1993 Oslo Accords, the final status of Jerusalem is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks — so Trump’s move stalls further progress and rules out US involvement in any future deal. And let’s not forget that East Jerusalem has been occupied by Israel for over fifty years, giving Israel dominion over hundreds of thousands of Palestinian residents and some of the most fiercely contested holy sites in the world. Why should the world recognise Israel’s sovereignty over land that doesn’t belong to it? The Palestinians insist that any two-state peace agreement must also include East Jerusalem as their own capital. So not only would it be a bad move for peace and stability — recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be a denial of the fundamental right of the Palestinian people to their own homeland.