Rumors and speculation are circulating about when and if the Trump administration is going to announce its decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv, where it is currently located, to Jerusalem. Such a move would be a dangerous and irresponsible provocation that contravenes longstanding U.S. policy by legitimizing Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem. Not a single country recognizes Israeli sovereignty over either West Jerusalem or East Jerusalem, which it occupied in 1967 and illegally annexed in 1980.
Although announced on the campaign trail, Trump’s decision will come at the heel of several developments regarding the Middle East that took place before his inauguration — UN Security Council 2334, former Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech, and the French-sponsored Middle East peace conference. Along with Trump’s threat to move the embassy, this diplomatic flurry marks the end of the era of bilateral negotiations under U.S. auspices that had dominated diplomacy in the region since the 1990s.
In Israel, the right wing settler movement is firmly ensconced in government. Within the Palestinian territories, the hope for justice and freedom from Israel’s occupation faded a long time ago. Trends on the ground demonstrate that an increasing number of Palestinians no longer believe in a two-state solution precisely because of Israeli settlement construction, which an expanding number of Israeli-Jews now support.