Further cementing Israel's control over Jerusalem, President Donald Trump may be igniting a new holy war in the region while erasing the rights of all Palestinians.
President Donald Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem Israel's capital has left the international community shaken, and the move will undoubtedly breed calamity in the region — specifically for Palestinians.
While the United States has always been a vocal supporter of Israel, presidents have consistently maintained a neutral and balanced position by never officially defending Israel’s or Palestine’s claim over Jerusalem. But now that Trump said he is moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, he’s essentially defending the Jewish state’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem, where Palestinians have always wanted to establish their own capital.
But perhaps what’s worse is that the president is also using the move of the U.S. embassy to pressure Palestinian authorities into accepting his administration’s proposals.
While now we know that the Trump administration is serious about the change of embassy locations, White House officials said in early November that the U.S. peace deal would be based on the so-called two state solution. But to Palestinians, Jerusalem is a deal breaker, meaning that making the city Israel's official capital would be a major blow to the peace process.
And recently, Congress passed a bill that suspended U.S. taxpayer-backed aid to the Palestinian Authority until the Palestinian government changes its policies regarding Palestinians engaging in fatal altercations against Israelis. Despite this move, Israel is still allowed to receive aid from the U.S., even as its officials continue to torture and kill Palestinian children.
Since 1967, Israel has displaced over 14,000 Palestinians living in Jerusalem, and over time, 28,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished in the occupied territory.
Between 2004 and 2015, over 2,000 people, half of whom were minors, were left homeless because of Israel's destruction of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem.
With Trump backing the move of the embassy to what the rest of the world sees as stolen land, it's clear he was never serious about bringing peace to the region in the first place as the result solidifies the Israeli occupation and gives the government the green light to act more aggressively in expelling Palestinians from Jerusalem, and thereby igniting further violence and tension.
As Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas put it in a televised address, Trump’s decision will push “the extremist organizations to wage a religious war that would harm the entire region ... and would lead us into wars that will never end which we have warned about and always urged to fight against.”
The president may fancy himself as a deal maker, but anyone can see that in this case, Palestinians have nothing to gain by allowing a foreign power to dictate who owns and rules Jerusalem. And it doesn’t take a genius to understand that the more the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Israel push Palestinians into a corner, the more likely it is for a conflict to foment.
Today, as Palestinian schools observe a “day of anger” to discuss the current developments, and former Israeli ambassadors, peace activists, and academics all oppose Trump’s move, we must keep in mind that changes to the status quo in Jerusalem have led to violent outbursts before.
Is Trump ready to go down in history as the U.S. president who helped to ignite a holy war in the region over territory that has absolutely nothing to do with America and its people? His declaration sends a message to Palestinians that their views, their right to property, and even their right to exist, are to be ignored and discarded.
And if there’s anything that might spark a major wave of conflict between Palestinians and Israelis it is to have the world’s most powerful nation tell Palestinians that their lives and concerns are worth less than their Jewish counterparts’.