Trump’s embassy move has triggered deadly protests. These 3 maps explain why.


Israel is bracing for a tense week as the U.S. Embassy officially opens in Jerusalem on Monday — a move that has triggered fierce protests by Palestinians. Protests turned violent in Gaza, where at least 18 Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers in clashes along the border fence on Monday, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza, making it the bloodiest day of demonstrations in the past six weeks of protests.

Overall, at least 67 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,000 have been injured by Israeli snipers since the embassy move was announced by President Trump in early December.

Close observers of the conflict had already predicted the tensions when Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced the move. At the time, the decision was branded “dangerous,” “catastrophic,” “irresponsible,” and being “against international law” by countries usually considered U.S. allies, including France, Germany and Saudi Arabia.

Here’s a short recap of how we got this point, that helps to understand why most other foreign governments are opposed to the embassy move.

Why do so many countries refuse to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital? 

So far, all 86 countries that have embassies in Israel locate them within Tel Aviv. It wasn’t always that way. As my colleague Adam Taylor explained, a number of countries used to have embassies in Jerusalem in the past, but decided to move them to Tel Aviv after Israel passed a law in 1980 declaring Jerusalem the nation’s united capital.

Many countries dispute that this is the case because Palestinians also consider Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state they hope to establish. East Jerusalem is still largely Arab.

The division dates back to 1948, when the United Nations announced that the British territory that was formerly known as Palestine would be split up into two independent states: Palestine and Israel. Jerusalem was supposed to become an “international city.” That changed after Arab leaders rejected the split-up, but lost in the subsequent first Arab-Israeli war.

The so-called Green Line, drawn 1949, separated East and West Jerusalem, with Jordan taking control over the eastern part. Israel took it over less than two decades later, in 1967, in another Arab-Israeli war that is also known as the Six Day War, and declared sovereignty over the city.

So, is it only about Jerusalem then?

No. The embassy move on Monday could make it even more difficult for Palestinians and Israelis to eventually agree on a “two-state solution.” That’s why Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra called Trump’s decision “a counterproductive step” in December.

“If we want to solve at some moment the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis, we need a two-state solution, and a one-sided step is not going to help,” said Zijlstra. Trump himself said in December that he remained committed to finding an “ultimate deal” on a possible two-state solution, even though Palestinians blamed him for having killed off that possibility.

Some supporters of Trump’s decision argue that a “two-state solution” does not correspond with the realities on the ground and that both sides should move on to look for different options. While Trump does not appear to fully agree, Palestinians argue that the president’s decisions have emboldened those who are opposed to a “two-state solution.”

Why is a “two-state solution” so difficult to facilitate? 

One reason why a separate Palestinian state looks like a distant mirage is the spread of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories and population growth within Israeli settlements there. Between 2009 and 2014, the number of Israelis living in settlements in the West Bank  grew by 25 percent.

Under international law, the settlements are deemed illegal and have drawn repeated criticism from the European Union and other governments. The Israeli government has nevertheless continued their expansion.

Whereas previous U.S. administrations opposed the expansion of Israeli settlements, Trump has been far vaguer. In February, he acknowledged that they could “complicate” the peace process. Settlers himself, however, have credited Trump for creating a “friendly new atmosphere conducive to settlement growth.

Roughly 300,000 settlers now also living in East Jerusalem, adding yet another challenge to Palestinian hopes to eventually turn that territory into their future capital.

Settlers’ rapidly growing presence in East Jerusalem, alongside Monday’s embassy move, indicates that while Trump may still float the possibility of a “two-state solution,” his actions are pointing into the opposite direction.

Read more: 

Trump’s ‘buy now, pay later’ foreign policy



Source link

About