Donald Trump moves ahead on Jerusalem-as-Israel capital: Explained
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Donald Trump moves ahead on Jerusalem-as-Israel capital: Explained

Ancient city is home to Islam’s third-holiest shrine and major Christian sites, and forms the centre of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

world Updated: Dec 06, 2017 14:47 IST
Agencies, New Delhi
Donald Trump,Jerusalem,Israel
In this Feb. 19, 2009 photo, people walk in and out of the Damascus gate, while the Dome of the Rock, background and left, is seen on a cloudy, overcast day in Jerusalem's Old City. (AP)

President Donald Trump is set to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and set in motion the relocation of the US embassy to the ancient city, upending nearly seven decades of US foreign policy and risking violence in West Asia.

Jerusalem includes the holiest ground in Judaism. But it’s also home to Islam’s third-holiest shrine and major Christian sites, and forms the centre of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Any perceived harm to Muslim claims to the city has triggered volatile protests in the past, both in the Holy Land and across the Muslim world.

The State of Israel was established after the Second World War and gradually recognised by most of the world’s countries. The UN recognised Israel in 1948, allowing it to become a member state, but it placed Jerusalem under international control in 1949. Despite this, most governmental offices moved to the city, explains this Time magazine article.

Israel, during the Six-Day War in 1967, captured the eastern section of Jerusalem, which Jordan presided over, and declared Israeli law, jurisdiction and administration would be applied to the whole city. Israel’s action has been considered illegal under international law and was condemned by the UN, as well as other states.

Israel’s Parliament Knesset passed a law in 1980 saying “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel,” but the UN and most countries rejected this claim. Israel called UN’s decision as unjust.

Countries have their foreign embassies in Tel Aviv, Israel’s second largest city, and most of them refuse to recognise Jerusalem as Israeli territory. No country had an embassy in Jerusalem, but Trump is about to end that policy.

Trump, as a presidential candidate, repeatedly promised to move the US embassy. However, US leaders have routinely and unceremoniously delayed such a move since President Bill Clinton signed a law in 1995 stipulating that the United States must relocate its diplomatic presence to Jerusalem unless the commander-in-chief issues a waiver on national security grounds, reports the Associated Press.

In this Friday, October 2, 2015, file photo, Israeli border policeman exchanges blows with a Palestinian man during a confrontation after Friday prayers outside the Old City in Jerusalem. (AP)

Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, the head of the Arab League, urged the US to reconsider any recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, warning of “repercussions.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Parliament such recognition was a “red line” and that Turkey could respond by cutting diplomatic ties with Israel.

Palestinian political factions led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement called for daily protest marches this week, starting Wednesday. East Jerusalem, now home to more than 300,000 Palestinians, was captured by Israel in 1967 and then annexed in a move most of the international community has not recognised.

First Published: Dec 06, 2017 12:14 IST