Jerusalem is now Israel capital for Trump's US

I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem… pic.twitter.com/YwgWmT0O8m

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2017 United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking immediately after Trump’s announcement, delivered criticism couched in diplomatic terms, saying he was “against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians.” “Jerusalem is a final status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties on the basis of the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, taking into account the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides,” Guterres added. Trump invoked the a 1995 law passed by US Congress calling for moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, to justify fulfilling his campaign promise. As he pointed out, his three predecessors, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, issued waivers putting the law on hold but he was now following the intent of the Congress. While nations and leaders, from China to Pope Francis criticised Trump’s decision and even US allies have refused to follow Washington’s lead on moving embassies to Jerusalem, there was no noticeable political opposition in the US from even the Democrats. In the US, politicians are loath to be seen as anti-Israel and Trump’s move was a challenge to his domestic critics to make it a major politically issue.
“India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country.” Ministry of External Affairs statement on Trump move
Trump’s announcement muddies the diplomatic waters in the Middle East where his son-in-law Jared Kushner is engaged in a so-far unsuccessful peace effort to bring Israel and Palestinians together for a solution to the contentious issue. “The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides,” Trump said. “I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement.” While declaring that he would ask the State Department to move the embassy to Jerusalem, he added, “This decision is not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement.” “We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders,” he added. “Those questions are up to the parties involved.” That leaves the room for Israel to have West Jerusalem as its capital, while Palestine has its capital in East Jerusalem, a territory that Israel captured during the 1967 Middle East War, if there is an eventual peace agreement between the two sides. Trump’s announcement is directed towards his domestic base, rather than the world. Almost a year into power, he has failed to fulfill most of his campaign promises ranging from building a wall along the Mexican border to abolishing his Obama’s health insurance programme. The only high-profile promise he was able to achieve was a tax reform. Now he can add Jerusalem to that without his opposition turning it into a divisive issue. (IANS) // ]]>

Trump all set to recognise Jerusalem as Israel capital

US President Donald Trump will unilaterally recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the White House has said, a move that elicited huge outrage from the Palestinians and the entire Arab world, media reports said on Wednesday.

The news comes ahead of an expected speech by Trump on Wednesday. The status of Jerusalem – a holy site for Israelis and Palestinians – is extremely contentious. Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. The issue goes to the heart of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, who are backed by the rest of the Arab and wider Islamic world. The city is home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem. Israel occupied the sector, previously occupied by Jordan, in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital. However, Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognised internationally, and all countries, including Israel’s closest ally the US, maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv. In recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the US becomes the first country to do so since the foundation of the state in 1948, the BBC reported. The move, if materialised, would mean a recognition of the city as Israel’s capital and is likely to fuel conflicts between Israel and Palestine further giving rise to global concerns. Palestinian factions have already announced that they would carry out three days of protest across the West Bank over the expected move. Trump on Tuesday told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II about his intentions. Arab leaders have warned against the move, with one saying this would be “a flagrant provocation to Muslims”. The Palestinian factions said protests will start on Wednesday and last until Friday at the very least. According to Palestinian leaders, marches against the decision were being backed by the Palestinian Authority, Israeli newspaper Haaretz said. White officials have, however, said Trump might not immediately move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem given logistical complexities and it might take several years, the BBC said. The Trump administration said recognising Jerusalem should be seen as “a recognition of reality” by the President. Specific boundaries of the city would remain subject to a final status agreement, it said. The status of holy sites will not be affected. Trump had promised the move to pro-Israel voters during his campaign for the presidency. Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Mahisan told Haaretz that Trump’s decision was “inflammatory” and will inspire Palestinians to take to the streets in rage. “The Palestinian people know how to protect their rights and we are in consultations regarding (our moves) in the coming days.” The Israeli Defence establishment is preparing for the demonstrations with intelligence assessments based on decisions taken by the Palestinian National Authority and by different factions within Palestinian society. Most of the activity is expected to take place in city centres, near American embassies and consulates. The main procession is planned for Thursday noon in al-Manara Square in Ramallah. People from across the West Bank are expected to join the march. On Wednesday, a large demonstration is scheduled to take place in Jenin. The Israeli military has decided to augment forces, mainly at prominent friction spots where soldiers come into contact with Palestinians, the Haaretz said. The police are also preparing, with reinforcements planned for Jerusalem and around the American embassy in Tel Aviv. Thousands of policemen are expected to be on duty in Jerusalem on Friday. Their main concern is lone wolf attacks that might be carried out by perpetrators across the city. (IANS)  
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A RAY OF HOPE, CEASEFIRE IN SOUTH WEST SYRIA

The Druz are predominantly in As-Suweida governate as well as in the areas bordering Iraq in the east. Since the northern offensive from Turkey did not make any headway towards Damascus which was 500 Kms away, the coalition forces launched the southern offensive from Jordan in late 2013 because Damascus was much closer. In the southern offensive the opposition forces made steady progress and cleared all areas astride Israel. The mission area of United Nations Disengagement Observation Force also forms  part of this region. Therefore, we as peacekeepers bore the brunt of collateral damage of this offensive. Syrian Arab Armed Forces (SAAF) were pushed north and eastward towards Damascus. The idea to have a buffer zone in these border districts was mooted a long time back and my interlocutors in Israel and Jordan had repeatedly mentioned this to me. I had always advised Israelis not to cross the 1974 ceasefire line and move east towards Damascus In a bid to desist them from doing that,  I used to emphasise that they would be ill advised to leave the heights along the Alpha line ( ceasefire line between Israel and Syria) and come east to low lying areas and expose themselves from all sides to the fire of opposition groups and SAAF. Both SAAF and opposition groups would have contested this action of Israel resulting in escalation of violence. The present ceasefire has come about after prolonged efforts of Russia and talks between Russian and US leaders. It is the beginning of the forming of the  de-escalation zones which Mr Staffan De Mistura, the special Envoy of Secretary General of United Nations to Syria, has been trying ever since his appointment in 2014. In fact I had met Ramzy  Ezzeldin Ramzy, the deputy special envoy in Beirut and emphasised that Qunneitra governate; which includes the Golan Heights, where our peacekeeping mission is located, as the best region to start their de-escalation experiment from. They have done exactly that after three years of sustained efforts! [caption id="attachment_17123" align="alignleft" width="300"] (DAMASCUS, July 8, 2017 (Xinhua) — Deputy UN Special Envoy for Syria Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy (C) speaks during a press briefing in Damascus, capital of Syria,[/caption] Qunneitra Governate lies  in South West of Syria and shares the ceasefire line with Israel on the west. Daraa region is south of Qunneitra and is the bordering district with Jordan in the south. As-Suweida is further east of Daraa and also is the border district with Jordan. Together the three governates form an L shape region upto a depth of thirty kilometres from Israel and Jordan. Daraa forms the pivot of the region. Roads and approaches to Damascus lead from all three sides of this region. A ceasefire in the three governates will mean Israel and Syria would be isolated and immune from  the internal strife in Syria as they will have moderate opposition groups suitably inclined towards them controlling these areas. Since the pre-requisite of the ceasefire is that the region should  be void of all radical groups like ISIS, Hizbullah and Al Nusra; if that happens, the ceasefire is likely to hold. The Assad government has scanty presence in these areas and therefore, will honour the ceasefire. The United Nations is also working out no flying zones in concert with Russia, US and Turkey and they would be advised to include Iran for any lasting peace in the country. A big spin off from the ceasefire would be that over a million Syrian refugees who have been in Jordan, Iraq and Egypt for years would be able to come back to their country although some of them will still remain internally displaced persons (IDPs). It may be recalled that 5.5 million Syrian are refugees in neighbouring countries of Turkey (3,050,000), Lebanon (1,001,000), Jordan (661,000), Iraq (243,000) and Egypt (123,000). Another 6.5 million are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in their own country and some of them have been displaced more than two times. Two thirds of the population of 23 million Syrians need humanitarian aid. In the six year old civil war this ceasefire is a ray of hope for similar ceasefires to be applied in other regions where the ground situation is more complicated. The seventh round of peace talks have commenced in Geneva paving the way for declaring other de- escalation zones in the rest of the country. * ( The author Lt Gen Singha was the Head of the Mission and Force Commander of United Nations peacekeeping mission in Golan Heights from 2012 to 2015 ) // ]]>