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Why does Donald Trump want to move the US embassy in Israel?

​​​​​​​Why does Donald Trump want to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?

Trump has long championed the causes of those on the hard-right of Israeli politics.

Not least because they have supported him. Take Las Vegas casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson – a passionate supporter of radical Jewish settler groups in Jerusalem.

He gave a cool $35 million to groups supporting Trump’s election campaign, which bought him a seat on the platform among former presidents for Trump’s inauguration.

He has been said to be furious at Trump’s delays in moving the embassy

:: Trump confirms Jerusalem embassy plan

Why isn’t the embassy already in Jerusalem?

Jerusalem’s status has not been settled because negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians have never reached a final agreement.

Both sides claim it as their capital, so if America puts its Israeli embassy in Jerusalem it would be recognising it as Israel’s capital.

That would be seen as taking sides and that could fatally undermine its role as an honest, neutral broker.

How can both sides claim the same city as their capital?

Israelis calls Jerusalem their ‘eternal undivided’ capital.

It is the centre of the Jewish religion, where the Bible’s King David built his city and where their temples stood on ‘Temple Mount’.

Muslims call the same mount, the Harem esh Sharif, and revere it as their 3rd holiest site, believing it’s where the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

For Israelis their capital can’t be anywhere else, but for Palestinians to give up a claim to a site seen as sacred by hundreds of millions of Muslims is equally unthinkable.

The US Embassy in Tel Aviv
The US Embassy in Tel Aviv

So do Israelis want Trump to move the embassy?

Not necessarily. Some on the right of Israeli politics do, but many others do not.

They say it would be premature without a final peace agreement with the Palestinians and fear the consequences.

Former Israeli ambassadors, for instance, have just warned moving it could finish what is left of hopes for peace in the region.

What do Palestinians say?

Islamist group Hamas says it would ignite a third Palestinian uprising or intifada.

The more moderate leadership on the West Bank says it would destroy America’s role as peace broker and scupper any chances of peace.

From Turkey to Malaysia, Muslims have echoed those sentiments.

Israeli's know this area of Jerusalem as Temple Mount while Palestinians know it as Harem esh Sharif.
Israeli’s know this area of Jerusalem as Temple Mount while Palestinians know it as Harem esh Sharif.

Are US allies supportive?

Donald Trump has been warned by allies in varying degrees of severity not to go ahead with the move.

The possibility is causing deep concern in foreign ministries around the world.

What happens next?

The world holds its breath, knowing this may be the closest we have come to the US embassy being moved and the geopolitical earthquake it would unleash.

The President is weak, falling in the polls, beleaguered by an ever tightening investigation and in need of a distraction.

But moving the embassy would be playing into the hands of Islamist extremists.

If America deserts its neutral role in the Middle East conflict, the move would provide a huge boost for their efforts to enlist new recruits.

That would put in danger the lives of Americans and their allies.

Most of the rest of the world does not want the move because Israel’s final status has not been settled in negotiations with Palestinians.

Donald Trump visited Jerusalem in May 2017
Donald Trump visited Jerusalem in May 2017

Why not?

Israel had the western part of the city before the war of 1967 and in that war took the rest including the historic old city which is among the most politically radioactive real estate on Earth. It has held onto those territorial gains ever since.

More from Donald Trump Jr

Why so radioactive?

For Jews Jerusalem is sacred ground. It is the centre of its religion and where Solomon built the first Jewish temple. On that very spot, Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven before returning again to Earth, The Dome of the Rock that marks that spot is Islam’s third most holy place, after Mecca and Medina.

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