Three years after US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, its status remains contentious. Here’s why
It has been three years since US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and ordered to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, upending decades of the country’s foreign policy in favour of the Jewish nation. US State Secretary Mike Pompeo on Sunday said that the decision strengthened the diplomacy efforts and partnership between the two countries, calling it the “greatest hope for peace.”
The Trump administration has been aggressive about its foreign policy for Israel, by taking several decisions that have been seen as against Palestinian interests. The United States recognised Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a disputed region occupied by Israel since 1967, and announced a reversal of its decades-long policy on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, calling the occupation not necessarily a violation of international law.
“Basing policy on reality, we recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and we recognised Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Pompeo told a Senate committee in 2019.
Earlier this year, Trump also unveiled the long-awaited Middle East peace plan to resolve Israel-Palestine conflict, proposing an independent Palestinian state and promising to keep Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided capital.” The Secretary General of the Arab League called the plan “a great waste of legitimate rights” of Palestinians, adding that the organisation is open to any serious effort to achieve peace.
India has repeatedly called for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, urging both parties to resolve issues through direct negotiations. After the Middle East peace plan was unveiled, the Ministry of External Affairs called on the parties to engage with each other and find an acceptable two-State solution for peaceful coexistence.
Why the status of Jerusalem remains contentious?
Israel and the Palestinians hold competing claims to Jerusalem, a city considered holy to the Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent state they hope for, while Israel regards the whole of Jerusalem as its capital.
In 1967, Israel occupied East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza Strip, which was followed by years of armed conflicts. UN Security Council Resolution 242 called for a withdrawal of Israeli troops “from territories occupied in the recent conflict”, recognising the right of “every state in the area to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries.” Since then, the Palestinians have been fighting for an independent state comprising the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
After US’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to adopt a resolution, asking nations not to establish diplomatic missions in Jerusalem. The delegates warned that the US’ decision risked igniting a “religious war across the already turbulent Middle East and even beyond.”
As many as 128 countries, including India, voted in favour of adopting the resolution, with only nine countries voting against it. It also demanded that countries comply with all relevant Security Council resolutions and work to reverse the “negative trends” imperilling a two-State resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.