THE African Union (AU) has joined other world leaders in rebuking the United States over the announcement made by President Donald Trump on Wednesday that they now recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and Washington would soon move its embassy from Tel Aviv.
AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat in a statement said he noted with deep concern “the decision of the United States Government. . . to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel”, and said he regretted the decision.
Mr Mahamat said this latest development would escalate “tensions in the (Middle East) region and beyond and further complicate the search for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The African Union also reiterated the solidarity between the continental body and the Palestinian people, “and its support to their legitimate quest for an independent and sovereign State with East Jerusalem as its capital”.
He called for renewed international efforts to find a lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israeli question, based on the two-state solution, and “within the framework of relevant African Union and United Nations pronouncements.”
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) said it would discuss a possible downgrade, or complete closure of the South African Embassy in Israel at the forthcoming elective Congress that commences on December 16.
In a statement, the ANC affiliate, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said they, “strongly condemn the reckless and provocative decision by USA President Donald Trump to formally recognise the city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital . . . This outrageous decision is further proof of the level of deterioration of the Trump Administration and the American political system as a whole.”
“Donald Trump’s decision also violates International Law and should be opposed by all peace-loving people,” added the statement from Cosatu.
Many feel Washington’s move, announced on Wednesday after weeks of speculation, threatens to upend stability across the region and ruin any remaining prospects to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Here is how head of states and senior officials reacted to Trump’s announcement.
Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president, lambasted the US’ decision and stated Jerusalem is the “eternal capital of the State of Palestine”.
“The decision by President Trump will not change the reality of the city of Jerusalem and will not give any legitimacy to the Israelis on this issue,” he told reporters in a televised address.
Abbas labelled the decision a “reward to Israel”, adding that Trump’s move encouraged Israel’s “continuing occupation” of the Palestinian territories.
Michel Aoun, Lebanon’s president, said the US decision threatened the peace process and stability in the wider Middle East.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on his Twitter account that Lebanon deplores and rejects Trump’s decision.
Expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people he added, “(Lebanon announces) their (Palestinian’s) right to the creation of an independent state whose capital is Jerusalem,” he added.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stated “Jerusalem is the title of coexistence between all religions and nations, and no country has the right to legitimise the occupation, go beyond the UN resolutions and affect the legitimate rights of Palestine”.
He called on Trump to reverse his decision and “prevent any dangerous escalation that leads to extremism”, in a statement released on his personal website.
Jordan, meanwhile, viewed the decision as illegal because it “consolidates the Israeli occupation” of East Jerusalem.
“The decision, which pre-empts the outcome of final status negotiations, fuels anger and inflames the passions of Muslims and Christians throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds,” Mohammad al-Momani, spokesperson for the Jordanian government, said in a statement.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem at the end of the 1967 War with Syria, Egypt and Jordan, putting the entire city under de-facto Israeli control. The international community, however, has never recognised Israel’s claims to all of Jerusalem.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s foreign minister, said Trump’s decision was a “death sentence” for all who seek peace and “a dangerous escalation”.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues in the conflict and has historically been relegated to final status negotiations.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and Israelis insist that the city is its “unified” and indivisible capital.
Saudi Arabia said the move was a “contradiction to immutable international resolutions that emphasise the rights of the Palestinian People to Jerusalem”, in a statement made by the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Egypt condemned the decision, saying such “unilateral steps contrary to international agreements will not change the legal status of Jerusalem as it is under occupation”, in a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement.
Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “profound regret” following Trump’s announcement. The move broke UN resolutions on “maintaining the political, historical, legal and humanitarian status quo in Jerusalem”, a ministry statement carried by Kuwait’s KUNA news agency said.
Emmanuel Macron, French president, said on Twitter that Paris “doesn’t approve of the decision” and “supports the two-state solution, Israel and Palestine, living in peace and security, with Jerusalem as the capital of the two states”.
Bahrain said the move “threatens the peace process in the Middle East and impedes all initiatives and negotiations to reach the hoped final solution”, in a statement made by the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Meanwhile, Pakistan said it “noted with grave concern” the US decision, which alters “the legal and historical status of the city”.
“Such a step would constitute a clear violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions,” the Pakistani Prime Minister’s office said in a statement.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya has described Trump’s decision as a “flagrant aggression”.
“This decision is an uncalculated gamble that will know no limit to the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim reaction,” he told Al Jazeera from Gaza.
“We call for stopping this decision fully because this will usher in the beginning of a time of terrible transformations, not just on the Palestinian level but on the region as a whole. This decision means the official announcement of the end of the peace process.”
The Iranian government said Trump’s decision would “provoke Muslims and inflame a new intifada”.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “protecting the current status of Jerusalem is very important and it is important that the Islamic world act as one”.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Jerusalem remains a “final status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties”.
“There is no alternative to the two-state solution,” he said in a statement to reporters.
Federica Mogherini, high representative of the European Union, said the bloc has “serious concern about today’s announcement by the United States President Trump on Jerusalem and the repercussions this may have on the prospect of peace”.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May disagreed with Trump’s decision.
“We believe it is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region … The British Embassy to Israel is based in Tel Aviv and we have no plans to move it,” she said in a statement to reporters.
The reaction was markedly different from Israeli leaders, however.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said it was “a historic day” for the country.
Jerusalem “has been the capital of Israel for nearly 70 years,” he said in a statement.
“Jerusalem has been the focus of our hopes, our dreams, our prayers for three millennia. Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3 000 years.”
Reuven Rivlin, Israel’s president, also welcomed Trump’s announcement, saying “there is no more fitting or beautiful gift, as we approach 70 years of the State of Israel’s independence”.
He added: “The recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the relocation of all embassies to the city, is a landmark in the recognition of the right of the Jewish people to our land.” – Herald Reporter/Al Jazeera/IOL.