Trump's Jerusalem decision and its consequences

Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital has made waves around the world. Protests have broken out in many Muslim countries as well as in Europe. The Arab League has sharply condemned the decision and called for a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Trump's decision is also hotly debated in Europe's press.

Open/close all quotes
Nowaja Gaseta (RU) / 09 December 2017

A daring historic experiment

Middle East expert Alexander Shumilin writes that although Trump's move is daring it is understandable in the opposition paper Novaya Gazeta:

“Moving Israel's capital to Jerusalem is an important historic step that had to come at some point. ... As the problem had been put off for 22 years and no real steps towards finding a solution to the Middle East conflict had been taken, Trump's team decided to risk a sort of experiment. If the Jerusalem question doesn't block the peace process (which is effectively paralysed anyway), then perhaps a change in Jerusalem's status can be a step forward? Now it will be interesting to see whether, as the Trump administration expects, the new conditions will move the Palestinians to seek steps towards a solution.”

Ziare (RO) / 09 December 2017

Jerusalem is de facto Israel's capital

Trump is simply recognising the reality of the situation, political analyst Petrisor Peiu writes on the news website Ziare:

“Jerusalem has de facto been the capital of Israel for the past 50 years. The Israelis are showing no sign of wanting to withdraw from East Jerusalem. They're the largest military power in the region, and no one can force them to relinquish part of a city that has had symbolic value for them for over 3,000 years. On the other hand the Palestinian state is a fiction, it's practically non-existent, it has no unified territory, government or parliament. ... What do Erdoğan and [EU Foreign Affairs High Representative] Mogherini want? Have they suddenly remembered that they're seeking a divided and internationalised status for Jerusalem, or do they want it to be the capital of a non-existent state?”

Corriere della Sera (IT) / 11 December 2017

The indivisible city as a model for the future

If Jerusalem's uniqueness were fully understood the city could serve as a model for the future, philosopher Donatella Di Cesare argues in Corriere della Sera:

“Unique, indivisible, and unpossessable, Jerusalem refuses to conform to the nation state principle. The city cannot become a victim of division, it transcends and prohibits such divisions. All attempts to integrate Jerusalem into a state-centric and national perspective have failed miserably. A failure of diplomacy and even worse failure of a brand of politics that operates on the basis of the yardstick and calculation. Jerusalem doesn't divide, it unites. ... But precisely because Jerusalem is a theological rock against which politics has shattered, the city could become a non-state model, a touchstone for the future relations of peoples with each other - if only a far-sighted perspective could prevail.”

Diken (TR) / 11 December 2017

Prayers alone won't free Palestine

The Muslims' angry reactions won't help the Palestinians' cause, writes web portal Diken:

“Every year Israel expands its occupation of Palestine through new settlements. The Palestinian map has shrunken to a single point, Palestine is being turned into an open-air prison and Israel is in full possession of Jerusalem. ... And what are the Muslims who deem Palestine and Jerusalem to be so important doing? They scream, rage and make threats. ... There are millions of Muslims who believe they can achieve something by cursing Israel. They don't even question their reaction and nor are they asking why their prayers haven't produced anything for decades. ... Because they have no power against those who are doing wrong and can't summon the common sense and the energy to achieve power for themselves, they duck out of the issue in this way.”

Al-Quds (PS) / 07 December 2017

Arab world not wielding its clout

The Palestinian daily Al-Quds sees the reactions of the Arab leaders to Trump's decision as useless, and calls for efficient action:

“The American president visited our region not so long ago. He went home with 500 billion dollars and countless business deals in his pocket. If the protests of the Arab and Islamic states are to be taken seriously economic cooperation with the US should be discontinued or restricted. Why don't they send the US ambassadors home and tell them to talk to their president, who is working against us? ... Trump's decision is a result of the Jewish lobby's great influence in the US. Why don't we use the same kind of instrument to defend our rights?”

The Economist (GB) / 08 December 2017

Jerusalem needs two US embassies

Now it would be only logical and fair for the US to open two embassies in Jerusalem, the Economist points out:

“Mr Trump would have been best advised not to touch Jerusalem at all. It should have been left as the crown in a final peace agreement. But if he must shake things up, then he should double down on his radicalism: open not one embassy in Jerusalem but two. One would manage ties with Israel and the other in East Jerusalem would deal with the Palestinian state, which he should also recognise. Two embassies for two states for two peoples: that would be truly fresh thinking.”

Adevârul (RO) / 07 December 2017

Russia the new mediator?

Who can replace the US as mediator in the Middle East? Adevârul wonders:

“From the Palestinian point of view the United States is no longer a mediator. But who can step into its shoes? Who will the Palestinians accept in this role? Which country and which figure with 'neutral status'? There are already some indications. For many Arab countries that haven't forgotten the behaviour of the Turks during the times of the Ottoman Empire Turkey is out of the question. So they are looking to Russia, a loyal friend in the past that was a guarantor of stability throughout the Cold War.”

Salzburger Nachrichten (AT) / 08 December 2017

Both sides blinkered

Israelis and Palestinians only heard what they wanted to hear in Trump's speech, Salzburger Nachrichten complains:

“With the observation that Israel's border will run through the city Trump was essentially talking of the division of Jerusalem. If that wasn't clear enough for some, the US president repeated that he only supported a solution that 'both sides' agree to. So he gave the Palestinians a veto right on the future of East Jerusalem. But in Israel and Palestine people preferred to ignore these details and focus on their own narrative. The announced Middle East visit of Trump's deputy, Mike Pence, who will conduct the exploratory talks, will no doubt serve to explain the precise content of the president's speech.”

El Mundo (ES) / 07 December 2017

From mediator to troublemaker

El Mundo sees Trump's initiative as irresponsible and unwise:

“After a year of leading the world's most powerful nation he still hasn't understood that his main responsibility is to resolve problems and avoid creating them. His decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is one of his worst mistakes so far and threatens to considerably aggravate the already fragile situation in the Middle East and destroy any prospect of a resumption in the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The US has always acted as arbitrator and mediator in the interminable dialogue between the two sides, thus fulfilling its traditional role of global policeman. But as soon as it sides with Tel Aviv on such a transcendental issue it loses its influence and worsens the situation.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) / 07 December 2017

Islamist hotbed of terror stands to gain

Trump's decision plays right into the hands of Islamist terrorists, Tages-Anzeiger fears:

“Now the situation threatens to escalate, as if there wasn't already enough suffering in this crisis region. The Palestinians have announced 'three days of anger' and Hamas is threatening attacks. ... If another Palestinian rebellion breaks out the peace process won't just be blocked, it will be dead. The beneficiaries are IS, al-Qaeda and the entire brood of Islamist terrorists. Jerusalem, Al-Quds for the Arabs, is above all for the Sunnis the third-holiest city in Islam after Mecca and Medina. Like Trump's ban on Muslims entering the US, the decision to move the US embassy is great for propaganda purposes. And it will have repercussions for Europe too. Once again Donald Trump has made the world more unsafe.”

Aftonbladet (SE) / 07 December 2017

Trump bolstering Israel's settlement policy

The decision in favour of Jerusalem will bolster Israel's expansive settlement policy, Aftonbladet fears:

“This settlement policy is reducing the room for negotiation square metre by square metre. That also goes for Jerusalem, whose Palestinian areas are being suffocated by Israeli settlements. ... Trump's decision to move the US embassy and recognise Israel's claims is above all a recognition of the Israeli settlement policy. That means that the US accepts and sanctions violations of international law. In the worst case the decision could lead to more violence. In any case it means that a weak glimmer of hope has become even weaker, and that the US will lose influence in the region.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) / 07 December 2017

Risk is overestimated

The Daily Telegraph doesn't believe Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital will automatically fuel the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians:

“The President pointed out that his predecessors had failed to end the dispute, so there was merit in trying something else that might. ... The reality is that the Arab states are no longer fixated on the Palestinian cause, nor do they regard a settlement with Israel as a panacea for the Middle East's ills. For countries like Saudi Arabia, the principal enemy is no longer Israel but Iran. Indeed, the response of Arab leaders was muted.”

Die Welt (DE) / 05 December 2017

The right move

The daily paper Die Welt approves of US backing for Israel's claims to Jerusalem:

“The Israelis had already built their government buildings in Jerusalem when the city was still divided and they only had the western part of it while East Jerusalem was controlled by Jordan. Jerusalem's status as the capital of Israel is therefore older than the Six-Day War of 1967 in the course of which Israel took over the eastern section of the city. This act of recognition by no means predetermines the results of the peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. At any rate there's no reason why the Palestinians shouldn't make East Jerusalem their capital if both sides can agree on such a solution.”

Yeni Şafak (TR) / 06 December 2017

The US's throne will burn

Yeni Şafak fears that the decision will ignite new conflicts:

“The Muslim world harbours great anger against the US government. ... The idea of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is neither a new development nor will it be the last in the Trump administration's Palestine policy. Nor is it bizarre to speculate that we will perhaps start discussing a one-state solution next. The crisis is continuing in the region; it is becoming institutionalised. No doubt the 'creative chaos' strategy will soon be implemented in the region, as Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state under Bush, and social scientists close to her called it. But this creative chaos is gradually turning into a fire that surrounds the US and will see its international throne go up in flames.”

Huffington Post Italia (IT) / 06 December 2017

A new axis against Iran

If the Arab world and Saudi Arabia in particular tolerate such a decision by Trump, nothing will stand in the way of an alliance against Tehran, writes Lucia Annunziata, editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Italia:

“The Israeli government is convinced that during the last few years marked by war a large part of public opinion in the Arab world has reached the conclusion that Israel is basically a good ally in the confrontation with terrorism and Iran, if only from a functional point of view. And that therefore a redistribution of territory, including Jerusalem, is possible, resulting in a new order in the region in which Israel plays an active role. Perhaps with the help of the pro-reformist Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman, who, like Israel, is determined to pull a brake on Iran no matter what the cost.”

More current debates

Le Soir (BE)
Financial Times (GB)
Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE)
Ukrayinska Pravda (UA)
Libération (FR)
Der Standard (AT)
Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH)
Rzeczpospolita (PL)
Hürriyet Daily News (TR)
Naftemporiki (GR)
Frankfurter Rundschau (DE)
gazeta.ru (RU)