World\Middle East

Trump recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital would raise regional tensions

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-12-06 10:47

On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned that such a move would jeopardize renewed American efforts to promote a deal between Palestinians and Israelis. These efforts come years after stalemate between the sides and have yet to materialize into anything meaningful or concrete.

The Palestinians have also warned of violence in response to any American move.

"The Palestinians...have always been threatening that it will be the end of the world and the end of the peace process and the beginning of war, but there is no peace process and the Middle East is a war zone those threats don't really make any sense," Prof. Emmanuel Navon told Xinhua.

Navon is a professor of international relations at the Tel Aviv University and a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies.

"I really do not believe a symbolic declaration from the US government will make any difference in a region that is already falling apart," said Navon, referring to the political instability surrounding Israel, mainly in Syria and Lebanon. "This might be used as an excuse by Hamas (a Gaza-based Palestinian militant organization) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) for a surge in violence as it has done in the past," Navon added.

"Even if there will be some kind of wave of violence as a result of an American decision, it will eventually die down, it will not continue for long," said Prof. Inbar.

But any wave of violence, lengthy or not, will result in loss of life on both sides.

A group of about 25 Israeli activists who have held senior positions in the Israeli government in the past sent an urgent letter on Monday to Trump's senior advisor, Jason Greenblatt.

In it, they warned of the implications of such a recognition.

"(This) will further deepen the asymmetry between the two sides, severely harm the prospects for peace and could ignite the entire region. It could severely harm the prospects for peace for generations to come," the letter signed by former Israeli Ambassador Ilan Baruch, read.

In a statement released by PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) Secretary General ahead of an expected announcement, Saeb Erekat said the move would promote "international anarchy."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has remained silent on the issue in recent days.

While Israel enjoys improved relations with Egypt recently, Egyptian officials have reportedly also warned of the American move. The flurry of warnings from the Arab world mean they are taking the reports of Trump's intent seriously.

But it is highly unlikely that an American move will result in a severing of ties between the few Arab countries that currently maintain relations, official or not, with Israel.

"These relations are primarily based on interests...this will continue," Prof. Inbar told Xinhua.

In a region accustomed to the cyclical nature of waves of violence, an announcement by the American president may in fact lead to a temporary upsurge. It will add more fuel into an already boiling cauldron.

But with Israel and much of the world treating Jerusalem as its de facto capital, there will unlikely be significant change on the ground.

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