This Is Why President Donald Trump Moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem and What It Means Going Forward
May 14, 2018, marked the official day that President Donald Trump uprooted the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This controversial decision has been batted around by the president’s predecessors for decades without any real action ever taking place. Moving the embassy, however, could have huge implications when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Palestinians have protested at the Gaza border since March 30, 2018, with over 100 deaths and thousands of injuries occurring. Follow along as we delve into why President Trump moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem in the first place, and what it could mean moving forward.
1. The embassy had been in Tel Aviv since 1966
In 1948, exactly 70 years prior to Trump moving the embassy to Jerusalem, America became the first country to give a thumbs up and recognize Israel as its own independent state. In 1966, the U.S. Embassy opened in Tel Aviv — a seemingly neutral ground between the quarreling Israelis and Palestinians. It would prove to be another 29 years before any changes would be made.
Next: The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1955
2. Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995
In the fall of 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, promising to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The strange part about the act, however, is that it was pushed by Congressman Bob Dole as a bid for Jewish votes during the 1996 presidential race between Dole and Bill Clinton. Needless to say, the entire effort of moving the embassy was more rooted in the United States’ domestic politics.
Next: The clause that kept this act on the back burner
3. Clinton, Bush, and Obama all ignored the act
Throughout their campaigns and in an effort to continue winning Jewish votes, former President Clinton, President Bush, and President Obama all claimed they would move the embassy to Jerusalem, however one particular clause kept them from actually having to commit. When the act was originally passed, a clause allowed for any president to suspend the embassy move for six months. And every six months since 1995, that clause has been put into action.
Next: Trump kept a campaign promise.
4. Trump pulled the trigger and moved the embassy
President Trump also hit the campaign trail with promises of making sure the U.S. Embassy was moved. And after decades of stalling on the act, Trump actually kept his promise and announced at the end of 2017 that he was moving it. When it came to how American voters felt about the move, a 2016 Gallup poll revealed that 56 percent of them didn’t have an opinion either way about it. Nevertheless, the embassy opened in Jerusalem on May 14.
Next: Is peace being undermined?
5. Some speculate that the move could undermine the peace process
Trump choosing to put the Embassy Act into action made the United States the first country to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but there are implications to this. For over 20 years, the U.S. has played the peacekeeping role throughout major conflicts between the Israelis and Palestinians. Many individuals now speculate, will everything change?
Next: Did the U.S. choose a side?
6. Some suggest the U.S. has sided with Israel
As a peacekeeper, choosing one side or the other would simply negate and undermine the entire effort. Trump moving the embassy from Tel Aviv (the neutral ground) to Jerusalem, the Israeli’s ground suggests that the U.S. is now siding with Israel. Middle East expert with the Center for New American Security, Ilan Goldenberg, explains that the role of the United States is “supposed to be acting like the fireman. Instead, we’re acting like the arsonist — we’re making things worse.”
Next: Will violence prevail?
7. Violence could worsen
Any potential conversations to be had about finding peaceful common ground between the Israelis and Palestinians will essentially be pulled off the table until a new, neutral party comes in to play big brother. The biggest concern of all, however, is that violence could worsen.
As it currently stands, there has been an underwhelming interest compared to what was expected. Although thousands rallied together to protest in Turkey, Lebanon, and Morocco (amongst others), the protests ended up fizzling out rather than heating up. Only time will tell if this change will exacerbate tensions and increase violence.