USA/Israel-Palestine: Trump’s decision on Jerusalem is contrary to peace and international law

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The United States (US) President’s decision on Wednesday to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, makes a mockery of the international world order. FIDH and its partner organisations in Palestine Al Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and Al Marsad Arab Human Rights Centre in Golan Heights express grave concern over this reckless decision in which the US gives another blank check to Israel and its occupation and violation of Palestinians’ fundamental rights, notably their right to self-determination.

Where the discussions around the status of Jerusalem in previous peace negotiations were always very careful, President Trump’s decision seriously hinders all efforts and hopes aimed at achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace. The decision has the potential to lead to a surge of violence in Israel and Palestine, and to further inflame tensions across the region, especially amongst US allies due to the highly symbolic value of Jerusalem in public opinion.

"While this decision does not change the legal status of Jerusalem as an occupied territory, the US decision saps peace efforts in Israel and Palestine and represents a major attack on the international legal system. The US decision validates international illegality and international crimes."

Dimitris Christopoulos, FIDH President

The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the relocation of the US embassy is a blatant violation of fundamental principles of international law and a direct and deliberate infringement of the US international obligations under numerous binding United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.

Since the UN Partition Plan in 1947, the international community has agreed to respect the legal status of Jerusalem. All attacks against the status of Jerusalem have been condemned. East Jerusalem’s occupation by Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War was clearly condemned by UNSC resolution 242. In 1980, when the Knesset declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel, UNSC resolutions 476 and 478 affirmed that any action seeking to alter the character and status of Jerusalem constitutes a violation of international law. In consequence, the UNSC called upon all states that have established diplomatic missions in Jerusalem to withdraw such missions. Again, in December 2016, in its resolution 2334, the UNSC reaffirmed that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law. The UNSC underscored settlements as a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. As recalled by the International Court of Justice, all States have the international obligation to not recognize the illegal situation and to see that any impediment to the Palestinian people’s exercising of the right to self-determination be brought to an end.

In consequence, our organisations urge the international community, especially the UNSC and the Arab League that will respectively hold emergency sessions today and tomorrow, to take all possible measures to enforce implementation of binding UN resolutions, especially regarding Jerusalem.

Furthermore, our organisations call on States and international intergovernmental organisations to ensure the respect of international law, to make strong statements against the US decision, and to work against any embassy transfer to Jerusalem, including by avoiding official meetings in said embassy.

Finally, we call on the European Union to stay firm on its differentiation policy and to define a strong and common position to ensure that no impediments will come between the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination.

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