President Donald Trump has taken the unprecedented decision of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and is also initiating steps to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This is a reversal of policies taken by the United States on the issue of Jerusalem for several decades.
This decision has been condemned, not only by Arab countries but by several other Western countries including France, Germany and Russia. The European Union and the Pope have also expressed concern over the measure taken.
Many political analysts view this decision as a catalyst for an escalation of tension in the Middle East and a serious impediment to a lasting solution to the Middle East crisis. This is especially so given the historical and religious significance of East Jerusalem for the Palestinians in particular, and Muslims as a whole. The United Nations Secretary General has renewed his call for a two-state solution to the crisis and a negotiated settlement on the issue of Jerusalem where Palestine hopes to locate its capital some time in the future. The decision taken by President Trump is almost certain to undermine any effort at a negotiated settlement on the issue of Jerusalem, endorsed by the United Nations ever since its annexation by Israel in 1967.
It remains to be seen how the world will react to this most recent decision taken by President Trump. One thing is certain, and that is the prospects for peace in the Middle East will be much more problematic. The United States as a credible and unbiased party to the peace process will now be increasingly questioned by the Palestinian and Arab leaders, some of whom are current allies of the United States.