U.S. President Donald Trump's Dec. 6 declaration to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv is nothing but dangerous. Why has he chosen a path that only pours oil on the fire of historical Arab-Israeli conflict, and why has he chosen to do so now?
The Palestinian Authority, which wants to make East Jerusalem the capital of an independent Palestine, and other Arab states have fiercely protested against the move, and it is feared that terrorist attacks taking advantage of the backlash could occur in various areas.
The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine that was adopted in 1947 recommended the creation of a special international regime for the city of Jerusalem, which remains a sacred place for the three religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In the 1980s, Israel declared Jerusalem its indivisible capital, but the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution calling for this declaration to be withdrawn. Later, during U.S.-mediated peace negotiations that began in the 1990s, it was decided that the final status of Jerusalem would be determined through negotiation between the parties involved. Trump's decision marks a major shift in policy, and there are fears that it could destroy the Middle East peace process.
U.S. Congress passed a law in 1995 seeking the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but the law was left unimplemented by successive U.S. administrations. This could be described as a wise move, taking Israel into consideration as an ally, while also enabling the U.S. to fulfill its international responsibility.
What the U.S. should be working on now is mediating the reopening of peace negotiations, not destroying the framework for the two-state solution that is supported by international society.
No matter how the issue is viewed, moving embassies to Jerusalem makes no sense, and it would be dangerous to follow the U.S. on this. We laud Japan, a country that supports peace in the Middle East, for announcing that at this stage it is not considering an embassy move.
Fingers are pointed at the influence of President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is Jewish, in Trump's decision on Jerusalem. One can sense an ulterior motive on the president's part of dulling investigators' pursuit of Kushner in the "Russia-gate" inquiry regarding suspicions of collusion with Russia, and trying to restore his administration's popularity by pandering to conservatives who have a strong tendency to favor Israel.
However, this sacred site must not be used as a political tool. Stirring up new opposition in the Middle East, a land of conflict, will only put the United States at a disadvantage.