SHARE
U.S. con­sulate in Jerusalem (photo: Wiki­media Commons)

Pres­ident Donald Trump rec­og­nized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by ordering the United States Embassy to move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Dec. 6, 2017. Despite pre­dic­tions that Pales­tinian vio­lence would explode with the president’s decision, Israel saw little vio­lence as a result of Trump’s actions.

I was in Israel over Christmas break and my tour guide informed our group that Jerusalem had seen very little protesting over the issue. My trip to Israel, however, also showed how com­pli­cated the region is, espe­cially regarding the movement of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem since both the Israelis and the Pales­tinians lay claim to the city.

While in Israel, our group met with Pales­tinians in the area and heard their con­cerns. One res­ident expressed concern that the United States’ decision indi­cated a rejection of a future Pales­tinian country in the region, since Pales­tinians have gen­erally made the pos­session of Jerusalem one of the require­ments for a two-state solution. As a result, the locals feared the decision would reopen old wounds among Pales­tinians.

The president’s decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem addi­tionally sparked concern in the inter­na­tional sphere, which resulted in an emer­gency U.N. meeting. The result of the meeting was a vote among U.N. member states with 128 coun­tries declaring that Jerusalem was not the capital of Israel, 35 coun­tries abstaining from the vote, and nine voting against the res­o­lution, one of which was the United States.

This vote raises two con­cerns for Israelis and Amer­icans alike. First, Israel views Jerusalem as its capital city, and as a sov­ereign nation Israel has the right to choose the location of its capital within its juris­diction. Yet by voting against the United States’ decision to rec­ognize Jerusalem, the nations of the world refuse to rec­ognize Israel’s sov­er­eignty.

Further, these nations pander to the Pales­tinians for fear of how ter­rorist orga­ni­za­tions such as Hamas would respond. If the U.N. dis­re­spects Israel’s sov­er­eignty in leg­islative and judicial deci­sions, will it also reject other coun­tries’ sov­er­eignty when their policies do not suit its goals?

The U.N. does not have the right to intervene in the affairs of a sov­ereign country, espe­cially in the location of a nation’s capital since it is not an inter­ference in another country’s affairs or a move away from peace. The U.N. vote merely shows its will­ingness to ignore coun­tries’ sov­er­eignty and overstep its legal bounds.

Trump’s decision to move the embassy also cor­rected a sig­nif­icant flaw in U.S. foreign policy that has tar­nished its rep­u­tation. For many years, the U.S. refused to rec­ognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel due to fear of angering Pales­tinians and pos­sible retal­i­ation. The U.S. and many other coun­tries, including the United Kingdom, have accom­mo­dated the Pales­tinians in the name of peace and for fear of how they might react. The U.S. sets a dan­gerous precedent if we allow the fear of ter­rorism and rioting to determine foreign policy. Hamas, the Pales­tinian terror orga­ni­zation which enjoys strong support in the West Bank, according to a local, has used such tactics in the past to manip­ulate inter­na­tional policy in their favor. Trump’s decision affirmed that the U.S. will not submit demands based on threats of vio­lence. Trump drew a line in the sand — one that the world has needed for many years.

Every country has the oblig­ation to rec­ognize the sov­er­eignty of Israel and its right to choose its capital.

Andrew Simpson is a freshman studying the liberal arts.