Trump never said what Jerusalem is, so in terms of a two-state solution, which has been supported by the U.N. and the wider international community, “what are these two states?”
Neuhaus said the “bravado” with which Trump made the announcement was “kind of spitting in the face of the rest of the world, which is saying this might not be the most prudent thing to do.”
“This kind of discourse does not prevent division it provokes division,” he said, and while they are hoping for the best, the future is unclear.
Many Israelis, he said, are asking themselves the question: “is Israel going to have to pay a price for this American gift? … Is this part of something bigger that we can't see right now?”
“These things will become clear in the months to come,” he said, but noted that “something has changed, and that change is not going to be for the good.”
Neuhaus' concerns echoed those of the patriarchs and heads of Churches and ecclesial communities in Jerusalem.
On Dec. 6, 13 of these leaders signed an open letter to Trump saying they have followed the news of his decision “with concern.”
“Jerusalem, the city of God, is a city of peace for us and for the world,” however, unfortunately, “our holy land with Jerusalem the Holy city, is today a land of conflict.”
Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, they said, will only lead to “increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us father from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division.”
Peace in the area “cannot be reached without Jerusalem being for all,” the signatories said, and urged the United States “to continue recognizing the present international status of Jerusalem.”
“Any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm,” they said, and voiced their confidence that with adequate support, both Israelis and Palestinians “can work towards negotiating a sustainable and just peace” that is beneficial for all sides.
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“The Holy City can be shared and fully enjoyed once a political process helps liberate the hearts of all people that live within it from the conditions of conflict and destructiveness that they are experiencing,” they said, and asked that as Christmas approaches, Trump would join them in their quest to build “a just, inclusive peace for all the peoples of this unique and Holy City.”
The 13 signatories of the letter included six Catholic officials, as well as representatives of Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, and Lutheranism.
Israel has traditionally recognized Jerusalem as its capital. However, Palestinians claim East Jerusalem for the capital of the Palestinian state. In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the U.S. is the first country to do so since the state was established in 1948. East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel after is victory in the Six Day War of 1967.
Debate on this particular issue has in many ways been the crux of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, which is backed by Arab leaders and the wider Islamic world.
According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem is to be discussed in the late stages of peace talks. Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized by the international community, and all countries with diplomatic relations have their embassies in Tel Aviv. However, under Trump's new plan, the U.S. embassy is to be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, then, is likely to increase tension, particularly in regards to the 200,000-some settlements Israel has built in East Jerusalem, which are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this stance.