US President Donald Trump has announced his country’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and plans for moving the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. Trump’s declaration goes against decades of reluctance by previous US presidents to recognize Jerusalem’s status before a final peace agreement is reached. The move has been widely criticized by the international community for putting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in jeopardy and further antagonizing the Muslim world.
Jerusalem is arguably the most contentious issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is the holiest city in Judaism and Christianity, and is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. Both Israelis and Palestinians claim the city as their national capital.
The 1947 UN Partition Plan of Palestine designated Jerusalem as “corpus separatum,” making it an internationally controlled entity independent of the proposed Jewish and Arab states. However, Palestinian and neighboring Arab leaders rejected the plan and went to war with the nascent state of Israel. Jerusalem was then divided between Israel and Jordan in the 1949 armistice agreement. In 1967, Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the “six day war” against its neighboring Arab countries. Israel annexed East Jerusalem and declared the reunited city its undivided capital, but the international community did not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over East Jerusalem.