Reasons and Implications of US Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Ways of Confrontation

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Dr. Omar Rahal

Director of Human Rights and Democracy Media Center “SHAMS”, Palestine


There is no doubt that the timing of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday, 6/12/2017, has its reasons, significance and objectives. This recognition was therefore not arbitrary although it was not surprising, not only because of the media’s predictions or leaks that preceded the declaration, the American bias towards Israeli positions, but also because of the strategic relationship between the two parties. This is in addition to the importance and necessity of Israel to a state like the United States of America in terms of interests and geostrategy. The recognition coincided with the statements of a number of ministers in the Israeli government, the Israeli parliament, the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem, about the intention (to give) some Arab neighborhoods and villages of Jerusalem the annexation of the Palestinian Authority as being of an Arab majority.

In terms of timing, the announcement equally coincided with the conflicts in the region with the seemingly unending wars, the preoccupation of the Arab countries with their deteriorating internal conditions, the fight against the forces of extremism and terrorism, as well as Trump’s electoral campaign and its commitment to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Simply put, the American decision reaffirms that the United States does not stand at one distance from both sides of the conflict, and that it is not a neutral intermediary in the ongoing settlement process.

It is true that this recognition of the language of politics and law will not create a truth and will not create a commitment. This gamble and adventure will not change the facts of history and geography, which affirms that Jerusalem is an occupied territory and that the decision of Trump’s administration contravenes the resolutions of international legitimacy, first and foremost the resolutions of the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly, and bilateral agreements signed between the Palestinian Liberation Organization PLO and Israel.1

Therefore, the State of Palestine, together with Arab and Islamic countries and the other countries of the world, must base its rejection of President Trump’s decision not because the United States is a sponsor of the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis, but because the United States is violating the resolutions of international binding instruments as well as UN Security Council resolutions, UNESCO, just to name but a few which has been issued by the UN Security Council. 

Since 1967, the UN Security Council has passed several resolutions on Jerusalem in particular.2 It issued Resolution 252, on  May 2nd 1968, denouncing the Israeli military offense in Jerusalem. There is also Resolution 253 of  May 21st 1968, in which the Security Council called upon Israel to rescind all its arbitrary measures to change the status of the city. In 1980, UN Security Council Resolution 465 called on Israel to dismantle existing settlements and stop planning and building settlements in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem. On June 30, 1980, it issued another decision under No. 476 and declared null and void the Israeli measures to change the character of Jerusalem. Resolution No. 478 of August  29th 1980 included the non-recognition of Israeli law on Jerusalem and the call on States to withdraw their diplomatic missions from the city. On  October 12th 1990, Resolution 672, condemning the massacre that took place inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque, confirmed the Security Council’s position that Jerusalem was an occupied territory.

On  September 30th 1996, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1073 and called for an immediate halt to the opening of an entrance to a tunnel near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which resulted in the deaths of many Palestinian civilians. On  March 12th 2002, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1397, calling on the Palestinian and Israeli sides to resume negotiations on a political settlement. On October 7th 2003, Resolution 1322 condemned the provocative behavior of Ariel Sharon’s entry into the Haram al-Sharif and the acts of violence that resulted in the deaths of 80 Palestinians. On  December 23rd 2016, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2334, reaffirming that Israel’s establishment of settlements in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 – including East Jerusalem – has no legal validity, and calls upon Israel to immediately cease all settlement activities and not to recognize any changes within the 4 June 1967.

UNESCO also issued Resolution 150, issued on November  27th 1996, recalling that Old Jerusalem is on the World Heritage List, and deplores the opening by the Israeli authorities of the tunnel along the western wall of the Haram al-Sharif. It also issued Resolution 196 on May 22nd 2015, and expressed deep regret over Israel’s refusal to implement previous UNESCO resolutions relating to Jerusalem, and the damage caused by the Israeli security forces on October 30th 2014 to the doors and windows of the mosque, as well as the closure of the Bab al-Rahma building, which is one of the doors of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and denounces Israel’s decision to approve the construction of a “cable car” in East Jerusalem. On October 13th 2016, UNESCO adopted a Resolution denying the existence of any religious affiliation to the Jews at the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Buraq Wall, and considered it a purely Islamic heritage. The last decision of the UNESCO Executive Council in 2017 confirms the previous resolutions of the Organization as an occupier of Jerusalem and rejects the sovereignty of Israel.3

On the other hand, after the bloody events between the Arabs and the Jews, known as the Buraq revolution in 1929, the committee formed by the League of Nations in June 1930 concluded that the wall of the Buraq and the pavement in front of the wall and in front of the Mahalla, known as the Moroccan sailors against the wall, was an integral part of Al-Haram Al-Sharif (Al-Aqsa Mosque which was formed by Dutch, Swiss, Swedish and Turks), and delivered its report to the League Nations in December 1930.4

This is in addition to the hundreds of resolutions adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations from 1947 to the present, which affirms the right of Palestinians to establish their independent state on their national soil and to reject the continued Israeli occupation of the occupied Palestinian territories who refuses to withdraw to the lines of the fourth of June 1967.

Of course, there will be political implications and repercussions for the decision of US President Trump to consider Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem will have serious repercussions not only on the Palestinians, but will have serious implications for the security and stability of the entire Middle East. The Palestinian Authority, along with the Palestinian people and the various Palestinian factions, will not accept this decision and will not surrender to it. This will be a declaration of death for the entire settlement process. The Authority will not be able to negotiate with Israel if Jerusalem is not on the negotiating table. The repercussions of recognition will increase the acts of popular resistance against the occupation, and will bring us back to the square of violence and chaos that Israel seeks to drag Palestinians to it, while Israel will open its appetite for more settlement inside and outside Jerusalem, paying more settlers to impose further restrictions on Palestinian citizens inside Jerusalem as a precursor to their displacement, as well as to annex more large settlement blocs around Jerusalem and expand the organizational structure of Jerusalem to include large areas of the West Bank. Of its obligations under the agreements signed with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

One of the negative effects of President Trump’s decision is that this will end the idea of a two-state solution adopted by the administration of former US President George W. Bush, confirmed by the Quartet and then by the UN Security Council. This will once again present the idea of a one-state solution in which Jews and Arabs live on an equal footing, which negates the idea of the Jewish state claimed by the Israeli right, despite Trump’s assertion that if the two sides agree on a two-state solution, the United States will support a “two-state solution.”5 From the first moment, Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his decision to transfer his country’s embassy to the United States, it expressed his opposition to that step and stressed his traditional position that Jerusalem is part of the 1967 occupied territories.6

At the Arabic and Islamic levels, countries should take a decisive position and should have a powerful reaction pertaining to the interests between Arabs and the U.S.A.  Additionally, the Arab League and Islamic Conference Foundation need to apply and implement the decisions made on the ground, besides adopting historical decisions in response to such big intense event caused by the American recognition.

Also, Arab, Islamic and Palestinian diplomatic movement should be taken within all levels , in terms of proceeding to International Criminal Court to submit settlement issue, since it is considered as ongoing war crime.7 As well, proceeding to International Court of Justice, The Hague to get at least an advisory judgment on detainees.  Regarding the international community, the UN Security Council should be requested to impose immediate sanctions against Israel, or turning to the UN General Assembly if the Security Council blocks this approach due to the expected veto from United States of America.

It is important to call upon regional foundations including the European Union, African Union and Council of Gulf Countries to utilize their potentials in order to impose sanctions on Israel. This requires the implementation of General Assembly Resolution 337 (A) (V), and reaffirms the illegality of Israel’s annexation of occupied Jerusalem and the restoration of its status under International Law as well as call on the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to bear its responsibilities obligations the Palestinian people.



  1. Analysts: relocating the US Embassy to the occupied Jerusalem is in conflict with international laws, Jerusalem city website, December 2016.
  2. For more details, look Dr., Ibrahim Sha’ban, and Jerusalem within UN resolutions since 1945 to 2010. (Jerusalem: Arab Studies Society, 2011).
  3. Al-Arabiya website – net, 7/12/2107.
  4. Dr, Othman Othman and others, Palestinian studies, (Nablus: An-najah National University, 2011). Page 81-82.
  5. Website of Alwatan Emirate newspaper, Trump recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of “Israel” ignoring international warnings,
  6. EU refuses to relocate US Embassy to Jerusalem, Amad media, 16/1/2017.
  7. Ali Jarbawi, Palestinian issue is blown away by Trump, Alayyam Palestinian newspaper, 7/12/2017 page 5.


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