In a historic declaration, President Donald Trump formally recognized Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital, breaking with decades of U.S. policy. This enraged the Palestinians and triggered days of violence. Legal experts, Israeli leaders and pro-Israel organizations noted that Yerushalayim has long been the capital and Trump’s recognition was a simple acknowledgement of reality.
TWO DECADES OF WAIVERS
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said in an address from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House with Vice President Mike Pence standing behind him. “I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interest of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Trump also directed the State Department to begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim.
The president dismissed concerns that his decision could damage the peace process, saying, “After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result,” referring to successive six-month waivers delaying the embassy move that U.S. presidents have signed since 1995, when Congress passed legislation authorizing the relocation.
Trump called the policy changes “long overdue” and said recognition of Yerushalayim as capital is “obvious” given that all of Israel’s functions of government, from the Knesset to the prime minister’s residence, are located in that city.
“This is nothing more or less than the recognition of reality,” said Trump. “It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”
“There will of course be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement,” Trump added. “But we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a peace and place far greater in understanding and cooperation.”
“Consistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” he said. “This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers and planners so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.”
An eventual embassy move would make the U.S. the first country with an embassy in Yerushalayim. But the relocation will not take place immediately, as there is no facility in Yerushalayim ready to serve over a thousand personnel at the current American embassy in Tel Aviv. The president had to sign a waiver delaying the move for another six months.
“We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders,” Trump emphasized. “Those questions are up to the parties involved… In the meantime, I call on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites, including the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif.”
Yerushalayim celebrated the announcement by projecting a United States flag on the wall of the Old City and displaying the U.S. flag’s colors on the illuminated cables of the String Bridge at the entrance to the city and other locations.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu praised Trump’s declaration, saying, “We’re profoundly grateful for the president for his courageous and just decision to recognize Yerushalayim as the capital of Israel and to prepare for the opening of the U.S. embassy here. This decision reflects the president’s commitment to an ancient but enduring truth, to fulfilling his promises and to advancing peace.”
President Reuven Rivlin called the U.S. decision “a landmark in the recognition of the right of the Jewish people to our land, and a milestone on our road to peace, peace for all the residents of Yerushalayim, and the whole region.”
Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri acclaimed the declaration, writing, “Shehecheyonu vekiyemonu vehigionu lazman hezeh. May Hashem bless the citizens of America and its president.”
President Trump was not unprecedented in recognizing Israel’s capital. This year, Yerushalayim was recognized as Israel’s capital by the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu and the Czech Parliament. In April, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it viewed “west Yerushalayim” as the Israeli capital rather than the entire city, prompting a cautious response from Israel that it was “studying” Moscow’s position.
The Czech Foreign Ministry said on its website: “Currently, before the peace between Israel and Palestine is signed, [the Czech Republic] recognizes Yerushalayim to be in fact the capital of Israel in the borders of the demarcation line from 1967.”
The Czech Republic added that “together with other EU member states, following the EU Foreign Affaires Council Conclusions,” the country “considers Yerushalayim to be future capital of both states, meaning the State of Israel and the future State of Palestine.”
The Czechs broke rank with EU members who uphold a policy of not recognizing Yerushalayim as the Jewish state’s capital without a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Yet the move differed from the U.S. policy change in that the Czech Republic conditioned the relocation of its Tel Aviv embassy to Yerushalayim upon the results of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, while Trump expressed unconditional intent to move the American embassy, though not immediately.
Netanyahu was sure that more countries would recognize Israel’s capital following the United States’ lead.
“I would like to announce that we are already in contact with other countries which will issue a similar recognition,” he said in a speech delivered at Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
“I have no doubt that the moment the American embassy moves to Yerushalayim, and even before then, there will be a movement of many embassies to Yerushalayim. The time has come,” asserted Netanyahu, without specifying which countries were considering the move, although the Philippines and several Christian countries in Africa are reportedly among the nations that might mirror the U.S. move.
The leaders of two of Israel’s closest allies, Canada and Australia, shot down the possibility that they would follow the U.S. and move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim.
“We will not be moving Canada’s embassy from Tel Aviv,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a visit to China, AFP reported.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland reaffirmed Canada’s position that “the status of Yerushalayim can be resolved only as part of a general settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.”
Similarly, despite burgeoning ties between Australia and Israel during the past year, including reciprocal visits by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Canberra’s Foreign Minister Julia Bishop rejected the notion of an embassy move.
“We will not be taking steps to move our embassy in Israel; it will continue to offer diplomatic assistance in Tel Aviv,” she told reporters.
European Union’s (EU) diplomatic chief, Federica Mogherini, said the Yerushalayim policy changes might push the Middle East “backwards to even darker times than the ones we’re already living in.”
“The European establishment sees in Israel and to a lesser extent the United States all that it has left behind in its pursuit of Kantian perpetual peace, so it responds furiously to their cooperation [with each other],” Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum think tank, said. Barring a shift in the European political landscape, such as anti-immigration parties coming to power, Israel-Europe relations “will continue to deteriorate,” he predicted.
Pipes said European governments “would love to tear into Israel for the embassy move. Trouble is, Israel had little to do with this event, so there’s not much they can do except bluster in impotent rage.”
WHAT ABOUT EAST YERUSHALAYIM?
Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, a faculty member at Northwestern University School of Law, noted that the United States’ 1995 Yerushalayim Embassy Act also referred to the city as Israel’s capital but explained that the president’s recognition was substantially different, saying, “The 1995 recognition was by Congress, but under the Constitution only the president has authority to formally recognize international borders, so this is decisive, binding and historic.”
Avi Bell, a member of the faculty of law at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University and a senior fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum think tank, downplayed the legal implications of the Yerushalayim recognition, explaining that Israel “designated Yerushalayim as its capital shortly after the War of Independence in 1949. Under international law, states do not require outside approval for the selection of their capital city.
“International law thus views Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital since that time, whether other states choose to recognize that fact or not,” Bell said.
“There doesn’t seem to be any legal significance to the U.S. recognition of Yerushalayim under domestic U.S. law either,” Bell said.
In his statement, Trump did not use the phrase “undivided capital,” which is typically utilized by Israeli leaders to affirm sovereignty over eastern Yerushalayim.
Regarding the issue of borders, Trump explicitly said, “We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.”
Soon after the Yerushalayim announcement, the president discussed the decision at his first White House Chanukah celebration. Trump reportedly did not invite Jewish Democrats or leaders of the Reform movement or the left-wing Jewish lobby group J Street, who have been critical of Trump and opposed his policy change on Yerushalayim.
“The miracle of Chanukah is the miracle of Israel,” he said. “The descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have endured unthinkable persecution and oppression, but no force has ever crushed your spirit and no evil has ever extinguished your faith.”
Regarding the Yerushalayim recognition, Trump said, “I know for a fact there are a lot of happy people in this room…this one will go down as especially special.”
In addition to Trump’s family, the reception was attended by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, and Reps. David Kustoff (Tenn.) and Lee Zeldin (N.Y.), the only two Jewish Republicans in Congress.
Rabbi Meir Soloveichik said at the event, “For the first time since the founding of the state of Israel, an American president has courageously declared what we have always proclaimed, which is that Yerushalayim is the capital of Israel.”
Ahead of the December 4 deadline for Trump to decide on the latest six-month waiver regarding an embassy move, evangelical Christian leaders had launched a massive campaign to persuade the president to follow through on his campaign promise to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv.
In a letter to Trump, the American Christian Leaders for Israel, a network claiming to represent more than sixty million people, had penned a letter to Trump that stated, “We want to be clear that tens of millions of Christians in America are in favor of Israeli sovereignty over all of Yerushalayim.”
In jarring discord, Union for Reform Judaism President Rabbi Rick Jacobs said that although the U.S. embassy “should, at the right time, be moved from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim,” the Reform movement “cannot support [Trump’s] decision to begin preparing that move now, absent a comprehensive plan for a peace process. Additionally, any relocation of the American Embassy to West Yerushalayim should be conceived and executed in the broader context reflecting Yerushalayim’s status as a city holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.”
Reconstructionist Jewish organizations too said they were “concerned over the possible impacts of the timing and the unilateral manner of President Trump’s decision for the U.S. to formally recognize Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital outside the framework of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.”
Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas leader, called for a violent Palestinian uprising in response to President Trump’s recognition of Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital, and Hamas and the Palestinian Authority declared three days of rage.
“Tomorrow, December 8, 2017, should be a day of rage and the beginning of a major effort to rise up, which I will name the intifada of Yerushalayim and the West Bank’s freedom,” Haniyeh announced.
“As we liberated Gaza, we are able…to free Yerushalayim and the West Bank by the way of this popular struggle,” Haniyeh said, adding that Hamas terrorists in Yehuda and Shomron should be “empowered to operate.”
Haniyeh urged the various Palestinian factions to “unite” for the sake of “Yerushalayim and al-Aqsa.”
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened a new intifada, saying at a mass rally in Beirut, “Trump’s decision on al-Quds will be the beginning of the end of Israel… The whole nation must stand in the face of this American threat.”
The worldwide Muslim Brotherhood organization called upon all Palestinian factions and Islamic movements to launch an uprising throughout the Islamic world against Israel and the United States.
Israeli security forces had begun preparations for the eruption of Palestinian violence ahead of President Donald Trump’s changes in U.S. policy towards Yerushalayim.
The Shin Bet security agency, the Israel Police and other Israeli security forces had convened to prepare for potential Palestinian riots and terror attacks in the wake of U.S. moves.
The security meetings were based on assessments that any U.S. move regarding the status of Yerushalayim would be framed by Palestinian leaders as an attack on the status quo at Har Habayis, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
In July, Muslims had rioted and carried out terror attacks for two weeks in Yerushalayim and the West Bank in protest of Israel’s decision to implement metal detectors at Har Habayis.
The State Department ordered U.S. government employees to avoid Yerushalayim’s Old City and the West Bank due to expected Palestinian violence. Additionally, the U.S. instructed its diplomatic missions in the Middle East to raise their level of alertness over possible reprisals against American institutions in the region.
When Trump informed PA President Mahmoud Abbas of America’s intentions before the announcement was made, Abbas responded that the “firm” Palestinian position is that “there is no Palestinian state” without eastern Yerushalayim as its capital.
In response to the announcement, Abbas cancelled an upcoming meeting with Vice President Mike Pence later this month “because the U.S. has crossed red lines” on Yerushalayim, Abbas’s diplomatic adviser Majdi Khaldi explained. This was despite Trump emphasizing in his announcement that he was not defining the borders of Yerushalayim nor altering the status quo at the city’s holy sites.
“It’s unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority is walking away again from an opportunity to discuss the future of the region,” Jarrod Agen, Pence’s deputy chief of staff, said in response.
The Trump administration “remains undeterred in its efforts to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians and our peace team remains hard at work putting together a plan,” Agen added.
During his visit to the region, Pence will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Yerushalayim and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo.
Abbas’s foreign affairs adviser Nabil Shaath later softened the Palestinian threat to sever ties with the U.S., telling Times of Israel that talks were only interrupted.
“We are not cutting our relationship with America,” he said. “We are protesting the move of Mr. Trump… We still have a delegation in Washington. There are matters with which communication is still continuing. Communication about the peace process is interrupted.”
Abbas spent two days in Egypt to discuss the ramifications of President Trump’s declaration.
“The [bilateral] summit will deal with the developments related to the U.S.’s recognition of Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital and ways to deal with the crisis that protect the Palestinian people’s rights, national holy sites and legitimate right to establish an independent state with Yerushalayim as its capital,” said Bassam Radi, a spokesman for the Egyptian President’s Office.
Abbas’s meeting with El-Sisi followed his recent meetings with Jordanian King Abdullah and Crown Prince Hussein in Amman regarding the developments surrounding Yerushalayim. Jordan and Egypt had cautioned the U.S. against recognizing Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital.
THE SECURITY COUNCIL INTERVENES
The Palestinians also pushed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to demand that the U.S. reverse its recognition of Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital.
At an emergency session of the UNSC convened by eight of the council’s fifteen members, fourteen member states condemned the U.S. move.
“We are satisfied that there are fourteen countries in the Security Council that are defending international law, defending Security Council resolutions as they relate to Yerushalayim and rejecting the unilateral, illegal decisions by President Trump two days ago,” said Palestinian Ambassador to the U.N. Riyad Mansour.
Due to U.S. being one of five permanent members of the UNSC, the passage of a resolution on the matter is unlikely.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley defended the recognition of Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital, stating that America remains a credible peace partner in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and remains committed to the two-state solution. She blamed the world body for being the real obstacle to peace.
“The United States has credibility with both sides. Israel will never be, and should never be, bullied into an agreement by the United Nations, or by any collection of countries that have proven their disregard for Israel’s security,” Haley said.
The U.S. ambassador added that the U.N. has done “much more to damage the prospects for Middle East peace than to advance them.”
The U.S. position on Yerushalayim has put it at odds with the four other permanent members of the Security Council, Russia, China, the U.K. and France, who have all condemned Trump’s Yerushalayim moves.
Eight countries that sit on the 15-member U.N. body, France, Bolivia, Egypt, Italy, Senegal, Sweden, the U.K. and Uruguay, had requested that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres brief the council on the U.S. policy change.
“The U.N. has given Yerushalayim a special legal and political status, which the Security Council has called upon the international community to respect. That is why we believe the Council needs to address this issue with urgency,” Deputy Swedish U.N. Ambassador Carl Skau said.
Guterres told reporters, “I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians.”
ARAB STATES EXPRESS CONCERN
Ahead of his declaration, Trump had spoken with Jordan’s King Abdullah to inform him of the American policy change.
“[This] will have serious implications for security and stability in the Middle East, and will undermine the efforts of the American administration to resume the peace process and fuel the feelings of Muslims and Christians,” Abdullah had warned.
Trump’s move faced opposition from other Muslim and world leaders as well. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called recognition of Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital a “red line” that would force Turkey to cut off relations with the Jewish state.
Erdogan said he would “set the entire Islamic world in motion” if President Donald Trump followed through on a policy change towards Yerushalayim.
Saudi Arabia expressed “grave and deep concern over reports that the U.S. administration intends to recognize Yerushalayim as the capital of Israel, and to relocate its embassy to Yerushalayim.”
Jordan, Egypt and the Arab League all issued similar warnings.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also criticized the announcement saying it might “finish prospects for the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
PALESTINIAN VIOLENCE ERUPTS
In reaction to Trump’s announcement, the PA-ruling Fatah party and the Hamas terror group announced three “days of rage” in Yerushalayim, the West Bank and Gaza.
On Thursday, the IDF deployed battalions to Yehuda and Shomron to disperse Palestinian rioters who threw firebombs and rocks in several areas throughout the region. Violent Palestinian riots were also reported in Yerushalayim around the Damascus Gate in the Old City.
The Palestinian Authority cancelled school in an attempt to get more Palestinian youths involved in the violent uprising.
Clashes between Palestinian rioters and Israeli security forces erupted on Friday in Yerushalayim as well as the West Bank and Gaza.
Three thousand Palestinians held demonstrations in thirty locations across the West Bank and Gaza following midday Muslim prayers.
At least two Palestinians were killed and forty were injured after 4,500 protesters along the Israel-Gaza border fence hurled rocks and burned tires and the army fired in self-defense.
West Bank Palestinians protesters threw rocks and firebombs and set fire to tires, rolling them at Israeli security forces, who responded with tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets and live fire.
In Yerushalayim, Palestinians protested near Har Habayis and al-Aqsa mosque following midday prayers. Around a thousand Israeli Border Police officers had taken up positions throughout Yerushalayim’s Old City in anticipation of the protests.
As Muslim worshippers left Har Habayis, they called out chants such as “The war is coming, al-Quds (Yerushalayim) is Arab,” “We will die as martyrs,” and, “There is no room for the state of Israel.”
Four police officers were injured in subsequent clashes.
In Umm al-Fahm near Haifa, Joint Arab List MK Yousef Jabareen told 3,000 demonstrators, “Trump’s declaration denies the historic rights of the Palestinian people to Yerushalayim, spitting in the face of the international community.”
By mid-afternoon, many of the Palestinian protesters had dispersed and order was restored in Yerushalayim.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said that a total of 245 Palestinian protesters were injured, mostly light wounds from tear gas inhalation and rubber bullets.
IDF Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, Israel’s coordinator of government activities in the territories, urged Palestinians not to listen to extremist elements encouraging violence, saying the U.S. decision on Yerushalayim does not change the status quo in that city.
“Extremists want to incite the streets with lies and distortions because they say this is a religious war,” Mordechai wrote on Facebook. “In the end, a violent reality will only harm the Palestinian public who is being lied to about the religious nature of the conflict and the preservation of holy places.”
On Sunday, violence was significantly less but still considerable. Six hundred protesters hurled rocks and firebombs at soldiers in twenty locations across the West Bank and rolled burning tires towards them. Four police officers were lightly hurt during clashes in east Yerushalayim. In Gaza, 450 Palestinians protested at various locations along the border and a hundred demonstrators protested in the southern Bedouin town of Rahat.
A nine-year-old girl traveling near the West Bank town of Ma’ale Amos was lightly injured when the car she was traveling in was attacked with stones.
Protests also erupted in Haifa and in the Druse town of Majdal Shams near the Syrian border.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the Israeli Arab residents of the Wadi Ara area near Haifa “do not belong to the state of Israel,” following their riots. Protesters had pelted a bus with rocks in Wadi Ara in northern Israel, injuring the driver and two passengers. Yediot Acharonot photographer Gil Nehushtan said he was in danger of being lynched after police hastily evacuated and left him alone, facing dozens of masked men. Two rioters were arrested.
“It wasn’t just rock throwing at buses,” Lieberman told Israel Radio regarding the riots. “One journalist was almost lynched…. We’ve seen terrorists come from there and people who participate in terrorists’ funerals. You can’t go out and demonstrate holding Palestinian flags and [at the same time] enjoy billions from the state and destroy us from within.
“I call on the citizens of Israel to boycott Wadi Ara, not to go to shops there, not to use the services there,” he said. “Make them feel like they are not wanted here. Under a permanent [Israeli-Palestinian] peace agreement, they will have to be a part of Ramallah.”
MK Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint Arab List, responded to Lieberman’s comments by saying, “Calls for boycotts against citizens just because of their national and religious background bring to mind the darkest regimes in human history. The thought that this man is responsible for the defense of the state should worry any sane citizen.”
Lieberman blasted MKs of the Joint Arab List as “war criminals after the Joint Arab Party introduced a no-confidence motion against the government saying it was “a criminal government” and that “the prime minister should be tried by the International Court in the Hague.”
Lieberman noted that four hundred people are killed every day in the Middle East.
JEW STABBED IN YERUSHALAYIM
An Israeli security guard was in serious but improving condition after a Palestinian terrorist stabbed him in the heart at the entrance to the Yerushalayim Central Bus Station.
Graphic security footage of the incident showed a 24-year-old terrorist removing his coat at the station’s entrance and then suddenly drawing a large knife and plunging it directly into 46-year-old security guard Asher Elmaliach’s heart.
After attempting to flee the scene, the terrorist was quickly apprehended, while the security guard was evacuated to Yerushalayim’s Shaarei Tzedek Hospital in serious condition.
Doctors were able to stabilize the victim’s condition. According to the hospital, had he “come in two minutes later there would have been nothing we could do. That’s all that separated life from death.”
Hours before the attack, the terrorist wrote on Facebook, “Please let our blood be spilled, for it is of little matter to spill one’s blood for our homeland, for Yerushalayim, and for the al-Aqsa Mosque.”
The assailant was reportedly the son of a retired PA general, Yousef al-Qur’a. Several al-Qur’a family members hold high-level positions in the PA security forces.
Hours later, Palestinians fired on an armored bus carrying students near Beit El, damaging the bus but causing no injuries. In another incident, stones hurled at a bus in northern Israel lightly hurt an 18-year-old passenger. Later that evening, Palestinians fired at a small IDF post near Beit El.
GAZA FIRES ON ISRAEL
The IDF hit at least two terror targets in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire that struck southern Israel amid ongoing regional tensions.
According to the IDF, a rocket was fired from northern Gaza and exploded in southern Israel. In response, Israeli tanks and aircraft hit two terror targets in Gaza.
Earlier in the day, two rocket launches from Gaza triggered sirens in the Hof Ashkelon and Sha’ar HaNegev areas in southern Israel, but the rockets failed to reach Israel and landed in Gaza.
The Salafi Islamic terror group Tawhid al-Jihad, which has in the past sought to overthrow Hamas’s rule in Gaza, took responsibility for the rocket launches. Nevertheless, the IDF said it “holds Hamas responsible for the hostile activity perpetrated against Israel from the Gaza Strip.”
A rocket fired from Gaza struck a kindergarten in the southern Israeli city of Sderot. A second rocket landed in the middle of a street in the city, with a third being intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
A high-ranking Israeli general warned that additional rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip toward Israel would be met with a “severe and painful response.”
Rockets were launched towards Ashkelon and nearby Hof Ashkelon on Monday night but intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome system. Israel responded by attacking Hamas terrorist positions in northern Gaza.
Earlier on Monday, a rocket exploded harmlessly in the Eshkol Regional council area.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed Israel’s use of warplanes against Hamas in response to the rocket attacks as “disproportionate” force of an “oppressive, occupation state” and described Israel as “a terrorist state that massacres children in Gaza.”
Netanyahu retorted, “I am not used to receiving lectures about morality from the leader who bombs Kurdish villagers in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, who helps Iran go around international sanctions, and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people. That is not the man who is going to lecture us.”
ANTI-ISRAEL DEMONSTRATIONS IN EUROPE
Anti-Israel and anti-Semitic demonstrations pervaded Europe as Prime Minister Netanyahu visited the continent days after the Trump administration’s recognition of Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital.
The civilian protests as well as widespread opposition to the White House’s Yerushalayim policy changes within the European political establishment may serve to deepen the chasm between Israel and Europe.
One day after Trump’s announcement, a Muslim brazenly smashed the door and windows of a kosher restaurant in Amsterdam in full view of policemen while wearing a Palestinian flag and yelling, “Allah hu akbar.”
Hundreds of anti-Israel protesters convened at the Place de la République in central Paris ahead of Netanyahu’s arrival in the French capital; they chanted, “Netanyahu war criminal,” and called for the prime minister’s arrest. The French demonstrators also called for Palestinian terrorists Hassan Hamouri and Marwan Barghouti to be freed from Israeli prisons. Demonstrations also erupted in the French towns of Marseille, Lyon and Lille.
Anti-Israel protests also occurred in Sweden, Italy, Austria and Berlin, Germany, where 2,500 people demonstrated against Trump’s announcement and burned the Israeli flag. Demonstrations in southern Sweden turned violent when a group of men hurled firebombs at a synagogue in Gothenburg hours after hundreds marched through the town’s streets in protest. Two hundred pro-Palestinian protesters in Malmö, Sweden, chanted anti-Semitic slogans encouraging the murder of Jews.
“We have announced the intifada from Malmö. We want our freedom back and we will shoot the Jews,” demonstrators chanted, reported Sweden’s Sveriges Radio.
A firebomb was hurled at a Jewish chapel at the Malmö cemetery over the weekend.
In Vienna, a violent anti-Jewish mob marched down the city’s streets screaming in Arabic, “Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning,” referencing the 7th century massacre of Jewish tribes in the town of Khaybar, in what is now Saudi Arabia.
Italian anti-Israel protesters marched with Palestinian flags and held signs calling Yerushalayim “the eternal capital of the State of Palestine.”
Thousands protested in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Hundreds of youths protested outside the American Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, burning U.S. flags and effigies of Trump and Netanyahu and holding banners with the slogans: “U.S. Embassy, get out of al-Quds,” and, “We are with the Palestinians.”
The U.S. embassy in Malaysia was also confronted by hundreds of demonstrators.
Hundreds of demonstrators attempting to break through the metal gate leading into the U.S. embassy in Beirut were hurled back by police with tear gas and water cannons.
Thousands attended a Hezbollah rally in southern Beirut chanting “Oh America, you are a great Satan” and “Death to Israel.”
EUROPEAN LEADERS PROTEST
In addition to violent protests in Europe, the continent’s political leaders roundly opposed President Donald Trump’s recent moves on Yerushalayim.
Macron called Trump’s Yerushalayim policy changes “regrettable” and said the city’s status should be determined through negotiations.
Macron agreed to work with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to pressure the U.S. to reassess its recognition of Yerushalayim.
“Paris is the capital of France. Yerushalayim is the capital of Israel. It’s been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years. It’s been the capital of the Jewish state for 70 years. We respect your history and your choices, and we know that as friends, you respect ours,” Netanyahu told the French president, adding, “we should give peace a chance by bringing things to their historical truth, by opening up the possibility of renewed negotiations.”
Following his stop in France, Netanyahu visited Brussels for a meeting with all twenty-eight foreign ministers of EU member states, the first such meeting by an Israel premier in twenty-two years. Two hundred people protested near the European Union headquarters meeting place wielding a banner with the message: “Israel War Crimes Unwelcome,” demanding Netanyahu’s arrest.
Netanyahu noted that he ascribes “great importance to Europe” but will not accept the continent’s “double standard” on Israel.
“I hear voices from there condemning President Trump’s historic statement, but I have not heard condemnations of the rockets fired at Israel or the terrible incitement against it,” Netanyahu said.
“There is an effort, continually, in UN forums, UNESCO, and elsewhere, to deny the millennial connection of the Jewish people to Yerushalayim. And that’s absurd,”
Netanyahu continued, “You can read it in a very fine book, it’s called the Bible. You can read it after the Bible. You can hear it in the history of Jewish communities throughout our diaspora, ‘Next year in Yerushalayim.’”
Regarding the two-state solution, Netanyahu challenged the delegates by asking, “Would it be [a stable country like] Costa Rica or [a volatile state like] Yemen?”
A dissenting voice in the chorus was Chairman of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) Heinz-Christian Strache, who said he supported moving the Austrian embassy to Yerushalayim, except that “we Austrians, as a neutral country, have to make sure not to act unilaterally, but to find a balance in the EU.”
Ten representatives from the Guatemalan Congress likewise sent a letter to Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales asking him to relocate the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim.
WHAT ABOUT PASSPORTS?
The attorneys in the landmark Yerushalayim passport lawsuit called on President Trump to instruct the State Department to list “Israel” as the birthplace of American citizens born in Yerushalayim.
Attorneys Nathan Lewin and Alyza D. Lewin represented Yerushalayim-born Menachem Zivotofsky, whose parents first sued the State Department in 2003, after it wrote “Yerushalayim” rather than “Israel” on his passport as his place of birth. In June 2015, the Supreme Court ruled, 6-3, that the president has exclusive power to decide which country to recognize as sovereign in a given territory.
In the wake of President Trump’s recognition of Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital, the Lewins hope the previous U.S. policy will be reversed.
“Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky and his parents view the president’s announcement today as the formal recognition by the United States that Yerushalayim, being the capital of Israel, is necessarily in Israel as surely as Tel Aviv and Haifa are in Israel,” the Lewins said.
“We will be requesting promptly that, in light of the president’s statement today, Menachem Zivotofsky be issued a United States passport designating his place of birth as ‘Israel,’” the statement continued. “The president’s formal recognition of Yerushalayim as the capital of Israel should also entitle every United States citizen born in Yerushalayim to have his or her United States passport automatically show ‘Israel’ as his or her place of birth.”
They noted that although the president announced U.S. recognition of Yerushalayim, he did not immediately take any steps to implement it, such as relocating the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim. The passport question thus could emerge as the key test of how the president’s declaration will be implemented.
(JNS contributed to this article)