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Editorial: U.S. embassy relocation only throws Middle East into chaos

The U.S. administration under President Donald Trump relocated the U.S. Embassy in Israel from the commercial hub of Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Insisting that East Jerusalem is the capital of their future sovereign state, Palestinians protested, resulting in clashes with the Israeli military which produced many casualties.


The relocation was carried out amid criticism from the international community following the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal. The forceful action has produced numerous victims and has made the resumption of the Middle East peace negotiations more difficult. It is nothing short of an action that plunges the region into turmoil.


Jerusalem is home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faiths. Israel occupied and annexed East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and declared Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital. But the international community rejected the declaration, and all countries, including Japan, have located their embassies in Tel Aviv.


Clearly showing its pro-Israel stance, the Trump administration announced in December 2017 that it recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move its embassy there.


The Palestine issue is at the root of instability in the Middle East. The international community has embraced as the principles of peace the coexistence of the two states of Israel and Palestine and the determination of the status of Jerusalem through negotiations between the two parties.


It is no surprise that the U.S. is being criticized for abandoning its role as an impartial mediator by violating the principles despite having mediated peace negotiations in the past. Still more, it is selfish if President Trump acted from the inward-looking motive of winning the favor of his domestic supporters ahead of midterm elections.


The U.S. moved its embassy on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding. What we have to remember is that many Palestinians were forced to leave their homeland and become refugees when Israel was created. America’s plowing ahead with the relocation of its embassy on the day that Palestinians remember their homeland rubs them the wrong way.


It is true that peace negotiations have stalled under the two-state solution. Changing the procedure for peace is an option. But if that option is chosen, the U.S. has to take responsibility for redrawing the entire picture and not in a unilateral way.


The Trump administration is reportedly considering a new peace plan that it calls the “ultimate deal,” but it has not revealed the details of the plan. It will be difficult [for the U.S.] to regain the trust of Palestine.

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