6 December 2017Hot off the Press
United States President Donald Trump will tomorrow recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in a move that is expected to add to the conflict in the Middle East. The United States will consequently move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Protests have already begun in the West Bank over the decision. Israel annexed Jerusalem in 1967, and since then it has served as the de facto capital. An important city for Muslims, Jews and Christians, Jerusalem is not formally recognised by the international community as the capital of Israel, and the United States will be the first and only country to have its embassy there.
The White House claims that the move reflects the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. A White House official has stated that President Trump believes peace can be achieved in the Middle East and that recognising Jerusalem would not harm ongoing negotiations.
However, recognising Jerusalem as the capital will significantly increase tensions in the region, other countries — including Egypt, France, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — have warned President Trump.
Jordan has begun arranging an emergency meeting of Arab leaders. King Abdullah of Jordan said: “Such a decision would be dangerous to the security and stability of the Middle East, and would lead to the collapse of American efforts for peace, and would also lead to strong reactions among Muslims and Christians.”
Personnel of the United States consulate in Jerusalem and their families have been told to avoid visiting the Old City or the West Bank. United States citizens in Israel have been urged to avoid places with increased police or military presence.
Australia does not support the United States’ move, and will continue to maintain its base of diplomatic relations with Israel from Tel Aviv. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop confirmed that Australia continues to support a two-state solution in the territory.