US recognizes Jerusalem

Israel News for 12-7-17

US Recognizes Jerusalem
Yesterday, President Trump announced that the US recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that he has instructed the State Department to begin the process of moving the US embassy there.

Trump based his decision on several factors:

1. The law passed by Congress in 1995, by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, called the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which directed the federal government to recognize Jerusalem as the capital and to move the embassy there. The law was reaffirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate six months ago. (Since that law, each President has signed a waiver every 6 months to override it.) Trump said, “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.”

2. The fact that not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has not helped bring peace. Therefore, “It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.”

3. The US is simply recognizing the reality of the situation — that Israel is the functioning capital of Israel. He said, “But today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”

4. “Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.”

Trump reiterated that the US is committed “to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement.”

He said that, “The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides.” [Which means the US will NOT impose a two-state solution on Israel. As he said in the past, he’s open to whatever the parties decide — one state or two states.]

While recognizing Jerusalem as the capital, Trump also pointed out, “We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.” [How this will effect Israeli construction in predominantly Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem isn’t clear yet, but Israel will most likely take it as a green light to continue.]

Trump said, “This sacred city should call forth the best in humanity, lifting our sights to what it is possible; not pulling us back and down to the old fights that have become so totally predictable. Peace is never beyond the grasp of those willing to reach. So today, we call for calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate. Our children should inherit our love, not our conflicts.”

He concluded with a call for peace, saying, “So today, let us rededicate ourselves to a path of mutual understanding and respect. Let us rethink old assumptions and open our hearts and minds to possible and possibilities. And finally, I ask the leaders of the region—political and religious; Israeli and Palestinian; Jewish and Christian and Muslim—to join us in the noble quest for lasting peace.”

Trump also announced that Vice President Pence will travel to the Middle East to meet with leaders and reaffirm the US commitment to the region.

The moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem is expected to take several years.

To read Trump’s entire speech click here.

Evangelical Push
One of the main factors that contributed to Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem and move the US embassy there was intense pressure from US Evangelical Christians.

Activists’ efforts included an email campaign launched by the group My Faith Votes. The group is chaired by Mike Huckabee, the former Republican presidential candidate and father of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary. The group posted a form on its website and urged people to contact the White House to press for recognition of Jerusalem as the capital.

Another evangelical group, American Christian Leaders for Israel, which includes conservative activists Gary Bauer and Penny Nance, sent a letter to Trump warning that time was of the essence in moving the embassy.

“The faith community has talked to the administration for months and months about the need to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” said Robert Jeffress, pastor at First Baptist Church in Dallas and an evangelical adviser to Trump. ”But the fact is, we didn’t have to do any convincing of this administration. This was a campaign promise that President Trump was happy to keep because he feels that way.”

To read more about this click here.

More to Come
Following the US recognition of Jerusalem, PM Netanyahu said today, “I would like to announce that we are already in contact with other countries which will issue a similar recognition. I have no doubt that the moment the American Embassy moves to Jerusalem, and even before then, there will be a movement of many embassies to Jerusalem. The time has come.”

Netanyahu added, “President Trump has immortalized himself in the chronicles of our capital. His name will now be held aloft, alongside other names connected to the glorious history of Jerusalem and of our people.”

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israel’s embassies abroad have already began putting out feelers to see if other nations were willing to follow suit and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move their embassies there.

For further reading click here.

Arab Reaction
Reacting to Trump’s speech, Palestinian Authority President Abbas said, “Trump’s decision will not change the reality in the city of Jerusalem. This is a Palestinian, Arab, Islamic city and it is the capital of the Arab Palestine.” He said, “With this announcement, the American administration has chosen to violate all international and bilateral agreements and resolutions and it has chosen to violate international consensus.” Other Palestinian leaders echoed his sentiments.

Hamas called for rage, violence … all the usual stuff you’ve come to expect from a terror group.

Hundreds of Palestinians protested at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, carrying Palestinian flags. Among other things, protesters called out “We will sacrifice our lives for al-Aqsa.” In the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians protested in several different cities, including Jenin, Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah. Protests also took place in Gaza.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister said, “Jordan rejects the decision and all its implications and will continue to work for an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Tunisia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Lebanon, Syria — all strongly condemned the US move.

The UN Security Council will meet on Friday to discuss.

The US State Department has asked Israel to “restrain” its response to the Jerusalem recognition.

For further reading click here.

Attackers Arrested
Last night, security forces arrested 20 Palestinians from the village of Qusra suspected of taking part in the attack on a group of Jewish children on a hike in the area last week. Other terror suspects were also arrested.

For further reading click here.

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