Newswise — For stories on Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital contact Asher Kaufman, John M. Regan Jr., Director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies in the University of Notre Dame's Keough School of Global Affairs

Kaufman is also a professor of history and peace studies and an expert in Middle East history and politics, nationalism, colonialism, border studies, and memory studies. 

Kaufman says: 

"President Trump’s plan to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel is ill-advised at best and dangerously volatile at worse. Trump confirms the truism that US policy vis-à-vis Israel/Palestine is domestic policy rather than foreign policy as it appeals mostly to his Christian conservative base that has long supported Israeli policies in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israelis do not need this recognition as they have practically regarded Jerusalem as their capital since the foundation of the state, with or without international endorsement. Palestinians and other Arab states see it as a flagrant assault on their aspirations over at least the Old City the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

The declaration raises a few questions and concerns:

  1. The US has always been challenged by its purported attempt to portray itself an impartial broker between Israelis and Palestinians. This deceleration will remove any vestige of alleged neutrality and will prevent the administration from assuming honest brokering in the future.

  2. By declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, what Jerusalem does Trump refers to? Is it West Jerusalem in its pre-1967 borders, or is it Jerusalem in its post-1967 extended borders? Does it include the Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem that Israel now tries to sever out of the extended municipal boundaries of the city so as to reduce the demographic presence of Arabs in the city?

  3. Although this declaration is largely targeted at Trump’s supporters in the United States its implications would be strongly felt in the Middle East. Jerusalem has already been the spark that ignited the Palestinian second Intifada in September 2000. Trump’s move might well ignite another wave of violence whose responsibility would be squarely in the hands of this administration and more broadly the USA.

 Trump could use this declaration constructively. He could state that the US would recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that the fate of the Old City and East Jerusalem should be determined in a negotiated agreement between the parties. But, clearly, this would not be his route.

Instead, we see a careless statement that would practically change nothing, would have no positive and constructive implications and that could cost the lives of many. Still, it will give President Trump what he needs the most: more attention and a sense of self-importance."  

For follow-up questions, contact Kaufman at [email protected]