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Trump's latest temptation: Set fire to the status quo in the Holy Land

The hint of the U.S. president to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel agitates the Islamic world

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Trump's latest temptation: Set fire to the status quo in the Holy Land

It's better to let it be. At least in three times millenary holy city, where still subsisted of era of Saladin and Crusaders, skipping status quo can entail dire consequences. Donald Trump promised in election campaign that he would move U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, home to all foreign legations before Jewish state, to Jerusalem, where Israel fixed its capital. In May, just four months after arriving at White House, he had to break his word and, like all presidents in last two decades — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama — left on hold "for national security reasons" for or Six months transfer of diplomatic mission approved by Congress in 1995.

Against his political will, Trump seems to have to revert to deal with voters now. There was going to be No transfer at moment, it made sure before beat at midnight on Monday to Tuesday deadline for adoption of presidential decision. Finally, everything has reverted to a final pronouncement while tension is prolonged. From Pentagon and State Department, he was clearly alerted that change of diplomatic headquarters could have counterproductive effects on security of American troops and citizens settled in Islamic countries.

The Old City houses wall of Lamentations and Basilica of Holy Sepulchre, Holy places for Judaism and Christendom, next to esplanade of mosques, an emblematic icon and third holiest enclosure, after Mecca and Medina, for Muslims. There is widespread agreement in international community that walled historical centre is in eastern part of Jerusalem, that is, area occupied by Israel for 50 years that Palestinians aspire to convert into capital of ir independent state.

That's why embassies are located in Tel Aviv. At least as long as Israelis and Palestinians do not reach a compromise on final status of Jerusalem within framework of a durable peace agreement. The 16 legations that had been established in western part of city — among m those of 12 Latin American countries — ended up moving coastal metropolis when Israel was annexed by law eastern part in 1980. The UN Security Council condemned measure as a violation of international law. The last to move were Costa Rica and El Salvador in 2006.

Why is Amagando now Trump – when he was presented as an architect of "definitive agreement" of peace-to take a decision contrary to international consensus? Washington's political speculation threatens to burn down Arab street with a wave of protests. Jordan, Egypt, Turkey – which maintains relations with Israel, 22 nations of Arab League, 57 member States of Organization of Islamic Conference representing 1.5 billion Muslims, have warned in last few hours, or are available To do so, risk of an uncontrolled popular reaction if America finally broke with status quo. Even French president Emmanuel Macron has expressed concern at eventual unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel after a telephone conversation with US president.

The Palestinian Authority has vehemently warned that it would cease to consider Washington as an impartial mediator in Middle East if it opted for Israeli ses. The Secretary-General of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Saeb Erekat, fears above all "disaster" caused by a change in status quo at expense of failure of negotiating process. The Islamic resistance movement Hamas, meanwhile, has played Rebato since its stronghold in Gaza by convening a "Day of Wrath" for this Wednesday, while threatening to launch a new Intifada if Trump gives some unilateral diplomatic step in Jerusalem.

Now precisely 70 years ago, United Nations agreed to Palestine Partition plan that was under British mandate since end of First World War. Some more than half of territory was adjudicated to Jewish state, officially proclaimed in May 1948, and remainder was planned for a future Arab state. Jerusalem, however, had to be placed under international administration, as a "separate body" of new national entities. But war that waged Jewish forces and Arab countries until armistice was sealed in July 1949 ruined UN's plans. The west of city was occupied by Israel, which established its capital re, and east was under Jordanian control, as well as West Bank. A green line of cease-fire divided city with fences and barricades until Israeli victory in six-Day War of 1967.

Although embassies are in Tel Aviv, ambassadors come without any problem to hand over ir credentials to presidential palace and diplomats regularly attend work meetings in Ministry of Foreign Affairs, both located in West Jerusalem . It's an acknowledgement of a situation in fact. Most of m observe great care, however, in never putting feet in official centers of Hebrew state located to east of Green Line.

In a public intervention planned this Wednesday, President Trump can still transfer a red line by referring to some form of recognition of capital of state of Israel, as y have anticipated American media as New York Times. It would comply, at least formally, with its electoral promise. But depending on exact content of his speech in ever-sensitive question of Jerusalem, pawned word of Republican president can become Tinder that will turn a new regional bonfire with a scorching focus in holy city.

For almost two centuries, a wooden staircase remains on a windowsill of Holy Sepulchre without any of Christian communities of Basilica dare to touch it. They have failed to agree to withdraw it ever since. In order to avoid usual altercations between popes, clerics and friars, y agree that it is preferable to maintain status quo and leave ladder in place.


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