“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I direct to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the new embassy will be a magnificent tribute to peace.”
– President Donald Trump
Why did Trump move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem?
President Donald Trump’s announcement on Wednesday of moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem marks a major change in the American policy on the Middle East.
Recognizing Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of Israel is a seismic shift of seven decades of U.S.-led neutrality between Israelis and Palestinians. Both Israel and the Palestinian State claim Jerusalem as their capital. The move signifies that the U.S. recognizes Israel as the legitimate, sovereign and rightful heir to the ancient city.
Jerusalem is one of the holiest and ancient cities in the world. It is home to holy sites of Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Jerusalem sits in the middle of the never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
After the founding of Israel in 1948, the first Arab-Israeli War erupted. It resulted in the Egyptian occupation of Gaza and the Jordanian occupation of the West Bank.
For years, a brutal civil war erupted between Palestinian guerrillas and a series of reprisal attacks by Israeli commandos. The region was caught up in the Cold War. The Arab nations surrounding Israel were getting arms from the Soviets. America and France supported Israel.
For years, Jerusalem was divided between Israeli and Palestinian control with an occupying Jordanian force. In the 1967 Six-Day War Israel captured East Jerusalem. In a matter of days, the Israelis pushed the Jordanians out of Jerusalem. Even though the Israelis signed an armistice, they continued to occupy the lands they had taken while the peace process was underway. The Israelis saw the capture of East Jerusalem as a “reunification” of their ancient capital.
The international community has never recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the entirety of Jerusalem. No countries have embassies in Jerusalem, but a few countries, including the U.S., have consulates there. All past Presidents have thought moving a U.S. embassy there would be too dangerous.
Many American conservative evangelical Christians believe a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem shows American support for Israel. Evangelical Christians make-up the biggest pro-Israel bloc in the U.S. American Christian support of Israel comes from the belief that Israel is the Holy Land promised to God’s chosen people, and God blesses those who bless the Jews.
President Trump’s move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is a recognition of the sovereignty of Israel. Recognition of Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of Israel places the U.S. on the side of the democratic and Jewish state. This bold move will have repercussions for both U.S. security and diplomacy in the region.