How The World Is Reacting To Trump Recognizing Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital : The Two-Way : NPR
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Updated at 3:21 p.m. ET
As President Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, other countries wasted little time in condemning the move on Wednesday. Citing fears that it will inflame tensions and undermine the peace process with Palestinians, who also claim the city as their capital, many in the international community also warned the White House against its stated intention of eventually relocating the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to the hotly disputed city.
“It incites feelings of anger among all Muslims and threatens world peace,” Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque, told Reuters. “The gates of hell will be opened in the West before the East.”
Though Congress passed a law in 1995 ordering the U.S. Embassy to be moved to Jerusalem, successive presidents — including Trump, earlier this year — have issued a series of six-month waivers to forestall the move. Trump is expected to sign another such waiver this week, but he is asking the State Department to begin laying the groundwork for a shift from Tel Aviv. Doing so would fulfill a key campaign promise.
No other country has established its embassy in Jerusalem, which is sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians. Its final status has been a central point of contention in peace talks for decades.
Here is how the rest of the world is responding to Trump’s decision.
After Trump delivered his remarks announcing the move, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a recorded address calling Wednesday a “historic day.”
“It’s rare to be able to speak of new and genuine milestones in the glorious history of this city. Yet today’s pronouncement by President Trump is such an occasion,” Netanyahu said.
“We are profoundly grateful for the president for his courageous and just decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to prepare for the opening of the U.S. Embassy here.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: @POTUS Trump, thank you for today’s historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Jewish people and the Jewish state will be forever grateful. pic.twitter.com/Z24lSRezYm
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) December 6, 2017
“I also want to make clear: There will be no change whatsoever to the status quo at the holy sites,” he added. “Israel will always ensure freedom of worship for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.”
Jerusalem’s Israeli mayor also lauded the decision in no uncertain terms.
“On behalf of the city of Jerusalem, the beating heart and soul of the Jewish people for more than 3,000 years, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your commitment and intention to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Nir Barkat said, according to The Jerusalem Post.
“This historic step will send a very clear message to the world that the United States stands with the Jewish people and the State of Israel. In Jerusalem, we don’t cave to pressure, and we don’t let threats or violence stop us from doing what is right.”
That said, the Post reports several other politicians in Israel are watching the decision with consternation. Zehava Gal-On, leader of the left-wing Meretz party, warned that “moving the embassy could serve Netanyahu but could [bring] about an unnecessary explosion.”
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Protesters took to the streets in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, bearing Palestinian flags and shouting slogans denouncing the announcement by the Trump administration. Students also held demonstrations in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian News Agency.
“This is an indication of what might come after Trump speaks later today. People here compared the protests to a small ball of fire that would roll and turn into a much larger ball later on,” Al-Jazeera reported from Gaza.
“The move by the U.S. seems to have further unified the Palestinians. Hamas and the smaller factions in Gaza have given their full support to [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement in their opposition to the U.S. move. There is full unity on the Palestinian streets behind this cause.”
Abbas, who spoke by telephone with Trump on Tuesday, warned of “the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world,” Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said in a statement.
Ismail Haniyeh, leader of the Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas, a frequent rival of Abbas’ Fatah movement, told Al-Jazeera, “This decision is a calculated gamble that will know no limit to the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim reaction.
“We call on stopping this decision fully because this will usher in the beginning of a time of terrible transformations,” he added, “not just on the Palestinian level but on the region as a whole. This decision means the official announcement of the end of the peace process.”
Other Palestinians echoed the angry replies of their political leaders.
“This is a conspiracy that is denying us our rights, the first of which is to return. They think we are a branch of thorns that they can step on and break,” said one social worker at a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon.