Given the rich heritage of this city and its spiritual significance to the Jews, Christians, and Muslims of the Holy Land, we hope that Jerusalem will be able to serve as the capital for both Israel and Palestine.
As followers of Christ, we share a hope that the Holy Land — the birthplace of our Lord and Savior and the Promised Land of the Israelite Patriarchs — will be a land of peace where divine justice, as expressed through the Jewish prophets, can reign. We recognize the historical significance of this land to the Jewish people, who after generations in exile looked to return to the land to secure their physical safety and spiritual redemption. We also affirm the presence of an indigenous Arabic speaking community in the land that has been present since the time of Pentecost (Acts 2:11).
It is therefore with the deepest concern that we are witnessing unprecedented actions by the United States government that — while supported by many good-meaning people within the Church — may inadvertently jeopardize the lives and future security of the peoples of the Holy Land. We therefore cannot support President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel absent a comprehensive peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“They deliberately chose a tragic day in Palestinian history, the Nakba, as an act of gratuitous cruelty adding insult to injury.”
— Hanan Ashrawi
Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, so why is it celebrating its 70th anniversary on April 18?
And why are Palestinians infuriated by the Trump administration’s decision to move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14?
The answer lies in two calendars.
Israel marks its public holidays using the Hebrew calendar. May 14, 1948, corresponds to the fifth day of the Jewish month of Iyar in the year 5708.
This spring the fifth day of Iyar — in the year 5778 — lines up with April 18. Israel will celebrate with parties, barbecues, fireworks over the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and an air force flyover along Tel Aviv’s shore.
Q&A: What will US recognition of Jerusalem mean for the peace process?
The peace process has been at death’s door since the former secretary of state John Kerry’s peace mission ended in failure in 2014. But the international community — apart from the US — is united in saying recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is disastrous for any hopes of reviving meaningful talks. The status of Jerusalem is one of the pivotal issues that diplomats and peacemakers have said must be agreed between the two parties in negotiations.
Palestinians will see Trump’s announcement as the end of their hopes and demands for East Jerusalem as a capital of a future independent state. While few want a return to violence, many will feel diplomatic efforts have got them no closer to a state of their own.
The Israeli government will be thrilled. Ever since it captured (and later annexed) East Jerusalem in the 1967 six-day war, Israel has claimed the city as its “eternal and undivided” capital, and has longed for international recognition. Some 200,000 Israelis living in illegal settlements will also celebrate.
The US will open its embassy in Jerusalem by the end of 2019, ahead of schedule, the vice-president, Mike Pence, has said. Arab-Israeli politicians were ejected from the Knesset at the start of Pence’s speech for heckling.
“In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the US embassy in Jerusalem – and that United States embassy will open before the end of next year,” he said in a speech to roaring applause in the Israeli Knesset.
Speaking during a two-day visit, Pence said Donald Trump had “righted a 70-year wrong” by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“When they talk about Christian minorities in danger, they talk about Iraq and other regions where ISIS is the threat. They never, ever address the issue of Palestinian Christians under Israeli occupation. . . . Our mere existence as Christians here is inconvenient as it means this conflict can’t be framed as a religious war between Jews and Muslims. It’s not about religion. It’s a political conflict over land and resources.”
— Rev. Mitri Raheb, a Lutheran pastor in Bethlehem
Some of the festive cheer was missing this weekend at a public Christmas tree lighting near the site where Christians believe an angel proclaimed Christ’s birth to local shepherds.
“Our oppressors have decided to deprive us from the joy of Christmas,” Patriarch Michel Sabbah, the former archbishop and Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, told the crowd in the town of Beit Sahour in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. “Mr. Trump told us clearly Jerusalem is not yours.”
The Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. Embassy there has provoked widespread opposition among Christians across the Middle East. When Vice President Pence arrives next week on a trip touted as a chance to check on the region’s persecuted Christians, he will be facing an awkward backlash.
The Palestinian consulate in Mexico City will soon be moved to Houston to formally recognize the seized territory as part of Mexico.
In response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, the Palestinian National Authority has announced that it will recognize Texas as a state of Mexico since it was violently annexed by the United States in the 1840’s.
“The territory north and east of the Rio Grande is very important to the Mexican people,” explained a PNA spokesperson. “Before American settlers showed up and implemented slavery, Mexico oversaw this land. Then, President Polk sent his armies to invade the rest of these Mexican territories, and force the country to give up California, New Mexico, most of Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, and parts of Wyoming and Colorado. We may soon recognize these states as part of Mexico, too.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says that this is a new approach to Mexican-US relations, and hopes it will help ease the tension between the two countries over security and immigration.
“They’ve left us with no option [except a one-state solution],” he said. “This is the reality. We live here. Our struggle should focus on one thing: equal rights.”
— Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization
President Trump, in formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday, declared that the United States still supported a two-state solution to settle the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, provided it was “agreed to by both sides.”
For the first time in his 26 years as a peacemaker, the chief negotiator for the Palestinians did not agree.
Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization and a steadfast advocate for a Palestinian state, said in an interview on Thursday that Mr. Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel “have managed to destroy that hope.” He embraced a radical shift in the P.L.O.’s goals — to a single state, but with Palestinians enjoying the same civil rights as Israelis, including the vote.
“Previous American presidents never touched on the subject of Jerusalem because they knew it goes beyond the Israeli Palestinian conflict. It involves Muslims worldwide. Unfortunately Trump doesn’t have a historical or political background. If his intention is to solve the Palestinian conflict he chose the wrong door. Jerusalem is not a political symbol but will forever be a religious one.”
The Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has drawn widespread condemnation across the Arab world, with political leaders, commentators and locals labelling the move as provocative and a threat to global security.
The decision has been cast as the final nail in the coffin of a two-state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict – an approach broadly recognised by Arab states – and the end of meaningful US diplomacy between both sides after almost 70 years.
It has also allowed competing factions across the Middle East to refocus on a common cause that had drifted from the spotlight over the past five years, eclipsed by regional power plays, war and insurrection.
Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital puts the US out of step with the rest of the world, and legitimizes Israeli settlement-building in the east — considered illegal under international law.
The UN security council is expected to meet on Friday to discuss Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a decision against which condemnation continues to mount across the Middle East and internationally.
Eight countries on the 15-member council requested the meeting, including the UK, Italy and France, amid claims from Palestine and Turkey that Trump’s recognition is in breach of both international law and UN resolutions.
The EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the bloc had united position that Jerusalem must be the capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state. The Russian foreign ministry said US recognition risked “dangerous and uncontrollable consequences.”