UPDATE: The New York Times has announced that President Donald Trump told Israeli and Arab leaders that he will be recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
The full announcement is expected to come on Wednesday.
This move will put the brakes on efforts to bring peace between Israel and Palestine, inciting further violence and war between the two groups of people fighting over the region.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most intractable issues in the world, and Jerusalem lies at the heart of all of it.
The city, which is claimed as the capital by both Israelis and Palestinians, has long been a time bomb just waiting to go off.
This week, U.S. President Donald Trump plans to set off that ticking bomb, prompting potentially disastrous consequences that could further drag the embattled region into the abyss of chaos and bloodshed.
Reports emerged saying that Trump will exercise the waiver authority provided in the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act to delay opening a U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, recognizing the contested city as the capital of Israel.
On Tuesday, he told Israeli and Arab leaders about his plans. And now, he's expected to announce his decision on Wednesday.
Here's some background: After World War II, while the United Nations recognized Israel as a state in 1948, Jerusalem was established as a "corpus separatum," or placed under international control.
Despite that, Israel claimed all of Jerusalem as its "united" capital, and annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, during the Six-Day War, effectively putting the entire city under de-facto Israeli control.
Since then, Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem has been considered illegal under international law, and the international community, including the United States, does not recognize Israel's self-declared ownership of the city.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians hope to make East Jerusalem the capital of their future state.
Even something that might appear innocuous to an outsider, such as placing metal detectors at entrances to the area, has the potential to trigger violence in the volatile region — as was seen in July this year. At least six people, three Palestinians and three Israelis, died after unrest broke out over the installation of metal detectors at entrances to al-Aqsa mosque, a holy site revered both by Palestinians and Israelis.
Unfortunately, by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the U.S. would not only undermine its credibility as an unbiased mediator, but would also nullify any remaining chances for peace negotiations in the Middle East.
In addition, by supporting Israel's claim over Jerusalem, the U.S. would inevitably deny the Palestinian people's rights over the city, thereby setting the platform for further conflict and bloodshed between the two sides. Internationally, the move could trigger outrage in the Arab and Muslim world, complicating the United States' diplomatic relations with allies like Saudi Arabia.
If Jerusalem is a powder keg, then the United States' recognition of the city as Israel's capital is a matchstick that could set it off. The effects of the ensuing explosion could have an everlasting impact on the already insurmountable peace process in the Middle East.
Thumbnail credits: Reuters