US Embassy Opening – Impact Thus Far

As one could have expected, the opening of the US embassy has turned Jerusalem into a political battleground, revealing growing rifts in world views and exacerbating, rather than resolving, the controversy over Jerusalem’s status.

  • As we have discussed previously, the move of the US embassy has sparked broad international criticism and condemnations. Prominent world leaders, like French President Macron, has been vocal in unequivocally condemning the transfer of the embassy and its detrimental impact on the peace process.
  • At the same time, the move has opened (or revealed) a crack in the international consensus and policy on Jerusalem. So far Guatemala and Paraguay have jumped on board and followed Trump’s example. Honduras is expected to be next as its parliament voted in favor, even though the Honduran president has still not expressed himself on the matter.  The possibility of a similar move is also at the center of domestic political discussion in Romania.
  • Two specific events have illustrated that dynamic quite sharply: the cancellation of the Israel-Argentina soccer match — due to the (clearly political) decision of Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sport to move it to Jerusalem (it was originally planned in Haifa), and the controversy and polemics around the possibility that, on the heels of its win at Eurovision 2018, Israel will politicize its hosting of Eurovision 2019 by holding it in Jerusalem (as some Israeli politicians have made clear
    they will insist on doing).
  • Overall, these developments make clear that Trump’s policy of moving the embassy neither revealed a new and expanding consensus (or recognition of “reality”) regarding the status of Jerusalem, nor contributed to legitimizing Israel’s claims to the city. Rather, events since the embassy move last month  demonstrate how the new Trump policy has deepened and highlighted differences within the international community, and how that policy has increased, not tamed, hostility towards Israel’s policies – and claims – to the city.
  • In addition, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have noted an increase in harsh Israeli policies in the wake of opening of the U.S. embassy. Haaretz reports that, “The locals feel that the fact that the U.S. Embassy recently moved to Jerusalem has made the Israeli authorities more aggressive at the expense of the residents and their celebrations.” This includes things like dispersing gatherings, giving tickets [for “noise complaints”] to the Palestinian youth who every year during Ramadan wake up worshippers before sunrise for a final chance to eat, increasing the issuance of parking tickets to people parked for prayers, and preventing people from bringing blankets and pillows into the Haram al Sharif.