On Friday a senior US official told Reuters that US President Donald Trump may deliver a speech next Wednesday recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Some Middle East experts speculate that such a move will be a major blow to the US relations with Arab countries and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. No US president or any western leader have ever recognized Israel’s control over all of Jerusalem.
However, a spokesperson with the White House National Security Council denied these claims and told Reuters that the White House has “nothing to announce”.
President Trump had promised during his presidential campaign in 2016 that he will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Many experts doubted Trump’s promises back then and didn’t believe that a US president could take such a dangerous step. However many recent reports have claimed that the US president is close to announcing this historical decision.
Trump said on October 8 that he wanted to give a shot at achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians before moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Since then, no real effort has been made by the US to push the Israeli-Palestinian peace process forward.
“I want to give that a shot before I even think about moving the embassy to Jerusalem … If we can make peace between the Palestinians and Israel, I think it’ll lead to ultimately peace in the Middle East, which has to happen” Trump said during an interview on October 8 according to Reuters.
Saeb Erekat, a member of the Palestinian Parliament described the possible US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as “playing with fire”, according to Al-Jazeera. “Any American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will bring about the end of the Jerusalem issue. This issue is weighty and dealing with it is playing with fire.” Erekat’s full statement said.
Hamas also stated that the move would lead to an “escalation” of the “Jerusalem intifada.” Indeed, the Palestinian side will likely halt all negotiations if Trump fulfills his promise to Israel, and a new uprising in the Western Bank and a military escalation in Gaza Strip is also a possible outcome.