In December last year, US President Donald Trump announced the concerns of the international community and the sentiments of the Palestinians that Jerusalem was Israel’s capital and that the US would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem soon.
On Monday, May 14, the US Embassy in Jerusalem was inaugurated formally. More than 700 American guests are estimated to be present at the opening ceremony. Ivanka Trump and her husband J Kushner participated in the event from the White House. His closest advisor is the daughter-son-in-law of the President. However, the transfer of the embassy is still symbolic as it will take time for the construction of the new building, till then the work of the embassy will run from Tel Aviv.
Some Efforts Required
Ambassador David Freedman and his staff from Jerusalem will do their work regularly. But this organizing and transfer is a major diplomatic victory for Israel and at the same time, a great example of Trump’s imprint on US foreign policy.
The US Consulate building in Jerusalem, which has been functioning since 2010, will replace the embassy. It currently deals with renewal of passports of American citizens and settlement of visa applications of local people. Apart from this, there is also the work of increasing American relations with the Palestinians. Part of this building in central Jerusalem is built on land that used to be part of the Israeli-Jordan border before 1967.
In 1967, Israel defeated the joint forces of Arab countries and seized East Jerusalem from Jordan. All the special places of religious importance like the Holy Temple, Holy Sepukhar Church, Golden Dome, Al-Aqsa Mosque are in East Jerusalem itself.
Naturally, the Palestinians are opposing the decision to bring the embassy to Jerusalem. Some reports said that after the inauguration of the embassy, the Trump administration may announce some plans for Israeli-Palestinian peace that could provide compensation for the Palestinians. But it is difficult to say when or if such an announcement will be made or not.
However, it is also interesting to note that a vehement and controversial Christian pastor of America, Robert Jeffress, is the preacher in organizing the embassy. It is close to Pastor Trump and is notorious for making derogatory statements about Jews and Islam. Given the changing politics of Arabia and the increasing supremacy of Israel, it is also not surprising that the Arab countries are maintaining silence in the matter of bringing the US embassy in Jerusalem. It is becoming clear that the Palestinians will have to fight for their freedom on their own and they will have to give up the confidence of the cooperation of Arab countries.
Palestinians have been protesting on the Gaza-Israel border since the month of March, and more than 40 Palestinians have been killed so far. Demonstrations are planned within Jerusalem and on the Gaza border at the inauguration of the embassy, and widespread violence is also being feared. The unrest in Gaza has not yet spread to East Jerusalem and the West Bank areas, but the embassy case may increase the flames.
The inauguration time of the embassy is also under question. In 1948, Israelis celebrate the occasion of independence of Israel on May 14 as Independence Day. The next day, May 15, the Palestinians celebrate as Naqba when they were forced to leave their homes. Meanwhile, Jerusalem Day was celebrated by the Israelis in Jerusalem on Sunday, in which they were celebrating the victory over East Jerusalem in 1967.
It is an annual procession, and this procession, passing through East Jerusalem, is actually carried out with the intention of insulting the Palestinians by shouting provocative slogans and damaging the Palestinian shops. This time too, this procession was taken out in which thousands of Israelis were there and they had the same kind of police protection as every year.
Increasing attacks on Christian churches are also becoming a worrying element in the Israel-Palestine dispute. The Israeli government has at present halted its disputed intentions to tax the churches and their properties and acquire some assets, but the church is facing a new attack. Some gangs of Israeli settlers constantly write lewd comments and sabotage at the holy sites of Christians. This series has been going on since last year.
Many Christians are also facing indecency in private. Most Israeli Christians are of Arabic descent and are followers of the three main churches – Greek Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church.
Christians are a key component in Jerusalem’s holiness, historicity, and sociality. Criticizing Donald Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, he emphasized that the status quo must be maintained.
The US embassy in Jerusalem, the US withdrawal from the Iran Atomic Agreement and the growing proximity of Israel to Arab countries are creating new political conditions for Israel and Palestine. Tensions are high in the Middle East, a sign of which is violent clashes between Iran and Israel in Syria. History is taking a turn once again around Jerusalem and as usual there is an atmosphere of violence, murders and demeanor.