Relocating the US embassy would derail hopes for peace by recognising Israel’s hostile military occupation, which divides and impoverishes residents
It is harder than it ought to be, explaining why recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a bad idea. The city has been Israel’s centre of government since 1948. While most countries have held off, the US Congress passed a Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, which included a line recognising the city as Israel’s capital. President Trump campaigned on a promise to implement the act, and though he has previously followed other presidents in signing waivers suspending it, this week he has missed two deadlines, suggesting that he is strongly tempted to give it the go-ahead.
If he does, it will derail the last hope of peace, according to the Palestinian Authority, and degrade US influence in the world, as countries including Turkey have warned. These may not seem like persuasive arguments. The US has willingly surrendered much of its standing; there is no peace process; and the reputation of both Turkey and the Palestinian Authority is low. But recognising Israel’s current version of Jerusalem would create enormous and new insoluble problems without addressing the real issues that beset the city.
Israel’s mutant version of Jerusalem is far larger than any historical iteration of the city
Of all the issues at the heart of the enduring conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, none is as sensitive as the status of Jerusalem. The holy city has been at the centre of peace-making efforts for decades.
The two main Palestinian parties – the Fatah faction of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and the Islamist militant group Hamas – have run separate governments in the West Bank and Gaza respectively since 2007.