Donald Trump's Jerusalem decision sparks global outcry

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A meeting of the United Nations Security Council has been called after US President Donald Trump’s unilateral decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The US move has sparked fears of regional unrest.

The UN on Wednesday agreed to an emergency session of the Security Council after eight nations requested talks on US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Trump had earlier announced his administration would begin the process of formally moving its embassy to Jerusalem to recognize the change of Jerusalem's status in the eyes of the United States government.

With his recognition of Israel's claim, Trump is seen by many — particularly Palestinians — as siding with Israel in a conflict in which Washington is supposed to be brokering a peace agreement.

The Palestinians want East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in 1967, to be the capital of any future Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution. Trump's statement did not refer to East or West Jerusalem and instead treated the city as one.

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Trump delivers on campaign promise

No government other than Israel's spoke out in favor of the US decision, but many issued statements criticizing the move.

Read more: Opinion: Trump wantonly fans the flames 

Bolivia, Britain, Egypt, France, Italy, Senegal, Sweden and Uruguay, which requested the talks, asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to open the meeting with remarks. The emergency session is set to take place on Friday.

After Trump's announcement, Guterres had said the final status of Jerusalem needed to be resolved in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Guterres said he had "consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures."

Hamas calls for 'day of rage'

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Trump had destroyed his credibility as a peace broker in the Middle East. In a televised statement, Abbas said the decision was, for the US, "a declaration of withdrawal from the role it has played in the peace process."

The move is seen as likely to stoke tensions across an already unstable region.  The Palestine Liberation Organization announced a strike across the West Bank on Thursday. Hamas, meanwhile, called for a "day of rage" on Friday. 

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Abbas said the Palestinian leadership would meet in the coming days and consult with Arab leaders to formulate a response.

Some of the anger felt  across the Muslim world was voiced by Turkey and Iran, both of which are vying for regional influence. Turkey condemned the decision as "irresponsible" and illegal, while Iran said it would "provoke Muslims and inflame a new intifada."

'Unjustified and irresponsible'

A statement from the Royal Court of US ally Saudi Arabia said it "followed with sorrow" Trump's decision, saying it represented a bias against the rights of Palestinian people.

"The kingdom has already warned of the serious consequences of such an unjustified and irresponsible move," the statement said.

Berlin has said plainly that it "does not support" Trump's decision, which Germany's acting Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said might "pour oil into the fire."

"I think that it really runs the risk that an already difficult situation in the Middle East and in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians could now escalate further," the acting foreign minister told German public broadcaster ARD.

Other European US allies have also responded negatively, with Britain describing the move as "unhelpful" and France calling it "regrettable."

Trump's Middle East peace team has held months of meetings with Israeli, Palestinian and Arab leaders — ahead of an expected peace proposal.


UN Security Council Resolution 242, 1967

United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, passed on November 22, 1967, called for the exchange of land for peace. Since then, many of the attempts to establish peace in the region have referred to 242. The resolution was written in accordance with Chapter VI of the UN Charter, under which resolutions are recommendations, not orders.


Camp David Accords, 1978

A coalition of Arab states, led by Egypt and Syria, fought Israel in the Yom Kippur or October War in October 1973. The conflict eventually led to the secret peace talks that yielded two agreements after 12 days. This picture from March 26, 1979, shows Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, his US counterpart Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin after signing the accords in Washington.


The Madrid Conference, 1991

The US and the former Soviet Union came together to organize a conference in the Spanish capital city of Madrid. The discussions involved Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestinians — not from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) — who met with Israeli negotiators for the first time. While the conference achieved little, it did create the framework for later, more productive talks.


Oslo I Accord, 1993

The negotiations in Norway between Israel and the PLO, the first direct meeting between the two parties, resulted in the the Oslo I Accord. The agreement was signed in the US in September 1993. It demanded that Israeli troops withdraw from West Bank and Gaza and a self-governing, interim Palestinian authority be set up for a five-year transitional period. A second accord was signed in 1995.


Camp David Summit Meeting, 2000

US President Bill Clinton invited Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat to the retreat in July 2000 to discuss borders, security, settlements, refugees and Jerusalem. Despite the negotiations being more detailed than ever before, no agreement was concluded. The failure to reach a consensus at Camp David was followed by renewed Palestinian uprising, the Second Intifada.


The Arab Peace Initiative, 2002

The Camp David negotiations were followed first by meetings in Washington and then in Cairo and Taba, Egypt — all without results. Later the Arab League proposed the Arab Peace Initiative in Beirut in March 2002. The plan called on Israel to withdraw to pre-1967 borders so that a Palestinian state could be set up in the West Bank and Gaza. In return, Arab countries would agree to recognize Israel.


The Roadmap, 2003

The US, EU, Russia and the UN worked together as the Middle East Quartet to develop a road map to peace. While Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas accepted the text, his Israeli counterpart Ariel Sharon had more reservations with the wording. The timetable called for a final agreement on a two-state solution to be reached in 2005. Unfortunately, it was never implemented.


Annapolis, 2007

In 2007 US President George W. Bush hosted a conference in Annapolis, Maryland, to relaunch the peace process. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas took part in talks with officials from the Quartet and over a dozen Arab states. It was agreed that further negotiations would be held with the goal of reaching a peace deal by the end of 2008.


Washington, 2010

In 2010, US Middle East Envoy George Mitchell convinced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to and implement a ten-month moratorium on settlements in disputed territories. Later, Netanyahu and Abbas agreed to relaunch direct negotiations to resolve all issues. Negotiations began in Washington in September 2010, but within weeks there was a deadlock.


Cycle of escalation and ceasefire continues

A new round of violence broke out in and around Gaza late 2012. A ceasefire was reached between Israel and those in power in the Gaza Strip, which held until June 2014. The kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June 2014 resulted in renewed violence and eventually led to the Israeli military operation Protective Edge. It ended with a ceasefire on August 26, 2014.


Paris Summit, 2017

Envoys from over 70 countries gathered in Paris, France, to discuss the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Netanyahu slammed the discussions as "rigged" against his country. Neither Israeli nor Palestinian representatives attended the summit. "A two-state solution is the only possible one," French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said at the opening of the event.


Deteriorating relations in 2017

Despite the year's optimistic opening, 2017 brought further stagnation in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. A deadly summer attack on Israeli police at the Temple Mount, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims, sparked deadly clashes. Then US President Donald Trump's plan to move the embassy to Jerusalem prompted Palestinian leader Abbas to say "the measures ... undermine all peace efforts."

rc/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)