The unilateral decision on Jerusalem by the United States of America

6 December 2017

The formal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a deeply troubling act by the United States that will have damaging and far-reaching consequences for the pursuit of peace in the Middle East. The deep significance of Jerusalem as a historical holy site for Jews, Muslims and Christians makes its final status central to any durable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The future of Jerusalem is therefore not one that can be decided unilaterally by any one nation, a fact that has long been recognised by the international community and previous US presidents, both Republican and Democrat.

The foreign policy of the current US administration has been characterised by unilateral decisions taken with little regard for the global consensus or the wider outcome of such actions. Recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, while continuing to deny the legitimate claims of the Palestinian people for an independent state, extinguishes any notion that the United States will act as a dependable mediator by legitimising the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, which has until now lacked any international recognition and continues to be in violation of international law.

Following a number of years without any meaningful progress, this decision all but ends hopes that diplomatic efforts can be revived in the short term, exacerbating tension in the region and creating the potential for renewed violence and unrest. The SI, while recognising the anger and frustration that many Palestinians will be feeling, urges all those who continue to be committed to a two-state solution and an end to occupation to respond peacefully to this latest setback, through diplomatic and political initiatives.

The fundamental commitment of the SI to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine remains unchanged, though the voices of those on both sides who are working for peace have today been overrun. The SI has repeatedly called for the immediate and unconditional recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, including at its XXV Congress earlier this year when it called upon all governments that had not yet done so to recognise Palestine as an investment in peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The SI reiterates this call today and urges all those governments that pursue a peaceful outcome to this longstanding conflict, to now recognise the Palestinian state, thus demonstrating that the wider international community continues to be committed to the two-state solution, ending the Israeli occupation and reaching a just and lasting peace based on international law.

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