The decision by President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel came with some advice from an unexpected source: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The New York Democrat told The Weekly Standard on Tuesday that he advised the president to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital. The move has divided Democrats, with some, like Schumer, insisting it is necessary, while others consider it a move with too high of costs with regard to national security concerns.
For now, the United States embassy will remain where it currently sits in Tel Aviv, and there are plans to move it to Jerusalem in the future.
Jerusalem is a holy city for three major religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In fact, the city is also declared as the capital for Palestinians.
Yet for more than half a century, the city has been officially recognized by the rest of the world as a “corpus separatum,” an internationally controlled city, according to a United Nations declaration after World War II, although that declaration didn’t stop Israel from moving its government offices to the city.
The worry is that, in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel (officially a Jewish nation), it may upset Muslim nations, their leaders, and the citizens within their borders, straining diplomatic relations with those countries. It may also lead to unrest and violence.
By keeping the U.S. embassy at Tel Aviv, at least for the time being, Trump avoids a political maneuver that would demonstrate a physical recognition of Jerusalem rather than a mere symbolic one. But promising to move the embassy in the future to the newly-recognized capital is a move that the administration will have to deal with at some point.
While recognizing the right of Israel to declare its capital as Jerusalem seems like an arbitrary argument to some, it comes with real geopolitical concerns that Schumer and Trump might be purposely ignoring. The original idea for the city, a holy place for billions of people around the globe, was a beautiful one: an international city for all to enjoy.
That dream has been difficult to bring back for many decades now. This latest decision by Trump, with the help of Schumer, it seems, pushes the world one step further away, ignoring the fact that this is a city that is meant to belong to all, not just one nation or one religion.