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Tensions again take the Middle East.
But this time they have a diplomatic nuance and point to the United States.
The intention of President Donald Trump to move his embassy in Israel to the disputed city of Jerusalem on Tuesday generated a wave of alarmism and protests at all levels between citizens and regional leaders.
And it is that the control of the city is not only one of the most thorny issues and one of the bases of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians but of the controversy between the Jews and the Arab and Islamic world in general.
At the root of the controversy is the fact that in 1980, Israel declared Jerusalem its capital, while the Palestinians designated the east of the city as the seat of their state.
To date, no power recognizes any of these claims, but if Trump fulfills its intentions, its execution would place the United States against the UN’s decisions on this matter and in open contradiction with the rest of the Western powers.
And, also, it would open a gap between his country, the main leaders of the Middle East and Muslim believers around the world.
According to this Tuesday, the president of the United States talked with Arab leaders to tell them about his intention to move his embassy from Tel Aviv.
But, according to US media reports, everyone was warned that such a decision could have “dangerous repercussions.”
King Salman of Saudi Arabia warned that any such movement would be seen as a “flagrant provocation” to Muslims around the world.
For his part, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas suggested the “dangerous consequences” that such a decision would have for the peace process and for “the security and stability of the region and the world.”
While King Abdullah of Jordan, who acts as custodian of the Islamic sites in Jerusalem, said the decision would “undermine efforts to resume the peace process” in the Middle East and provoke Muslims.
From Egypt, President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, urged Trump to “not complicate the situation” and desist from a decision that could generate a conflict in the area.
But the protests were not there.
France, the European Union and the Arab League have also spoken out to express their concern over Trump’s potential decision.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “concerned” about the issue and argued that any determination on the status of the disputed city should be taken within the framework of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
From Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that his country could cut ties with Israel if the United States recognized Jerusalem as its capital.
Meanwhile, images from social networks show protests in several countries of the Arab world, in which banners with the face of Trump and with anti-American slogans are burned.
But, according to reports, nothing seems to contain the express will of Trump.
Official statements by the Palestinian Authority and Jordan appear to confirm that the White House informed Abbas and King Abdullah of Trump’s intention to move the embassy, although the Saudi authorities did not explicitly acknowledge it.
In fact, the president is expected to issue a final decision on Wednesday.
The White House reported that the president discussed possible decisions regarding Jerusalem with all Middle East leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Behind the controversy is the fact that Trump is responsible for signing these days or not a measure to postpone the transfer of the Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, something that has been done every six months by all his predecessors in the White House since in 1995 the United States Congress passed a law in favor of that relocation.
For now, the US Department of State announced that Trump’s decision could cause instability in Israel.
Preparation for violence
And already the authorities of Tel Aviv also announced that they are getting ready for a potential outbreak of violence.
The intelligence minister, Israel Katz, told Army Radio that he expected Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of his country and that they were already “preparing for all options.”
In fact, Israeli media announced that the Army is taking action and preparing its personnel for the riots that could occur after Trump’s potential announcement.
Why the controversy
The fact of being considered a sacred city by the faithful of the three great monotheistic religions – Jews, Christians and Muslims – made Jerusalem the object of numerous disputes that, over the centuries, led to repeated conquests and reconquests.
When in 1947 the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 181 for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, it was thought that Jerusalem would be considered a “separate entity”, an international city that would be administered for ten years by the UN before carrying out a referendum to define its destiny.
The document also provided for the protection, free access and freedom of worship in the sacred places of the city, not only for its inhabitants but even for foreigners without discrimination on grounds of nationality.
But Israel occupied the sector, previously held by Jordan, in the 1967 war and considers that the entire city is its indivisible capital.
The Palestinians claim, for their part, that East Jerusalem is the capital of a future state and, in accordance with the Palestinian-Israeli peace accords of 1993, its final status must be discussed in the final stages of the peace talks.
Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all the countries with which it has diplomatic relations maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.
Since 1967, Israel has built a dozen settlements, home to some 200,000 Jews, in East Jerusalem. These are considered illegal under international law, although Israel denies it.
But if the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it would reinforce the position that the settlements in the east of the capital are legitimate Israeli communities.