For decades American presidential candidates from both parties have promised to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – but once elected they have retreated from the idea.
On Wednesday, Donald Trump changed that. Trump overruled his top political and military advisers to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announce plans to relocate the US embassy. To give you a sense of how unusual that is: of all the countries that maintain formal diplomatic relations with Israel, not one currently has an embassy in Jerusalem. And the few that have had embassies there in the past have been small countries with little connection to the Middle East, such as Costa Rica and El Salvador.
Trump’s decision has been widely condemned and has sparked protests in many parts of the Middle East and the wider Muslim world. It remains to be seen, however, exactly what will change and how fast those changes will be. While making his much-anticipated announcement in Washington on Wednesday night, Trump also signed a new national security waiver, exactly the same sort of waiver regarding the embassy move that every US president has signed twice each year for more than two decades. He also said that actually building a new embassy and moving American diplomats into it is a process that will take a minimum of several years.
There is no question, however, that Trump’s move will alter the diplomatic and political situation on the ground. The question is: how?
Presenter: Laura Kyle
Mouin Rabbani, Senior Fellow, Institute for Palestine Studies
JD Gordon, Former National Security & Foreign Policy Adviser to Donald Trump
Yossi Mekelberg, Professor of International Relations, Regent’s University, London
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