Palestinians are protesting in cities across the West Bank and Gaza Strip after President Trump announced Wednesday that he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and initiate a process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Despite his announcement, however, President Trump—like past U.S. presidents—signed a waiver that keeps the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. This waiver has been signed by U.S. presidents every six months since 1995.
Control of Jerusalem is one of the most contested issues between Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli military seized control of East Jerusalem in 1967 and has occupied the territory ever since. Palestinians, however, have long seen East Jerusalem as the capital of their future country. Since 1967, the U.N. Security Council and U.N. General Assembly have passed dozens of resolutions calling for Israel to end its occupation of East Jerusalem.
Currently 86 nations have their embassies in Tel Aviv. No country has an embassy in Jerusalem.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Trump’s announcement meant the United States had abdicated its role as mediator in the Middle East peace process. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said, “President Trump just destroyed any policy of a two-state solution.” This is Erekat speaking Tuesday.
Saeb Erekat: “This step is prejudging, dictating, closing doors for negotiations. And I think President Trump tonight disqualified the United States of America to play any role in any peace process. I think tonight he is strengthening the forces of extremists in this region as no one has done before. This is an act, a statement, that’s totally uncalled for, totally unacceptable. Jerusalem, East Jerusalem, is occupied territories. No country on Earth have recognized Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, except for President Trump tonight.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—alone among world leaders—said Trump’s move was an “important step toward peace.”
Palestinian groups have declared three days of rage. Today, at a checkpoint near Ramallah, Israeli forces fired dozens of rounds of tear gas and stun grenades at hundreds of Palestinian protesters. Protests were also reported in cities across the Palestinian territories. We’ll go to Jerusalem after headlines.