The Donald Trump’s announcement of recognizing the al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of the Israel regime has sparked outrage around the world. But as the global uproar kept unfolding, one aspect of the announcement was given less focus. It was the Trump’s claim that he will move the American embassy in the occupied territories from Tel Aviv to Al-Quds. How much does this intention look feasible on the ground?
Huge legal obstacles ahead of Trump
Without any doubt, the biggest challenge the American president will face in the course of embassy relocation will be legal. In terms of the law, Washington is far from being able to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to al-Quds as the legal status of the city is yet to be determined.
According to a United Nations Security Council’s resolution, the status of the ownership of the contested city is unclear. Al-Quds is divided into western and eastern parts. The western side of the city was occupied by the Israelis in 1948 war, the same year in which foundation of the Israeli regime was announced and the UN recognized it as an independent state. However, the eastern part, where the holy al-Aqsa Mosque is located and which includes the Old City, was seized from the Palestinians during the war of 1967 that erupted between the Israeli regime and the neighboring Arab states. At that time, the UN blasted the East al-Quds seizure, calling the Israeli forces’ progress to its center “illegal.” The international body passed resolution 478 and labeled the capture as an “act of land occupation”.
The Fourth Geneva Convention (FGC) is another obstacle. The FGC, which is related to protection of the civilians in the time of war, very clearly calls for victims’ rights to be observed. Having in mind that the Palestinian crisis, and especially the al-Quds status, is an international issue, the dispute is resolvable only if the rights of struggling sides, especially the Palestinian side as the original owner of the land, are determined. According to the first protocol of the FGC, the settlement of the Palestinian struggle as well as specifying the fate of al-Quds is possible through both sides’ agreement. So, the American plan for embassy relocation lacks consideration of the law which seeks the Palestinian side’s approval in any settlement of the dispute.
Violation of Oslo Accords
On the other side, according to the Oslo peace agreements, signed in 1993 between the former head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Yasser Arafat and the former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and by the mediation of the former American President Bill Clinton, any pursuit of the peace process between the two warring sides was tied to finalization of the status of al-Quds in the future negotiations. The US government as the broker of the deal guaranteed such talks will take place. Now the American unilateral move to recognize the city as an Israeli territory and the regime’s capital in practice means that the fate of the city is determined out of the path of the Oslo Accords and breaks the American guarantee for pushing the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue ahead. This move by the American leader is, hereby, a blatant violation of the Oslo Accords that are also recognized by the European countries. Now the American administration finds itself in a dilemma: By recognition of al-Quds as the Israeli capital it has to declare the Oslo Accords failed and consider the peace talks as void, or if it still cherishes the Oslo agreements, it has to retract the unilateral announcement on al-Quds.
Washington cannot, on the one hand, claim it is struggling to keep the Oslo deal alive and, on the other hand, violate its terms. Seeing the violation of the 1993 accords and 1967 UNSC resolution on al-Quds occupation, the Palestinian Authority, as a UN observer state and the representative of the Palestinian people, can file a complaint to the UN’s International Court of Justice. Due to the US’ obvious violation of the international law and also its promises, Washington’s conviction by the ICJ is highly likely. The conviction is significant as it will question the possible existence of the American embassy in al-Quds. Some Jordanian lawyers reportedly intend to to file a suit with the ICJ against the Trump move.
With the legal obstacles standing, the American embassy in case of relocation will likely face problems officially interacting with the UN as well as the non-state organizations. The embassies of the European countries, which are part of a wide range of opponents of Trump’s measure, will come across legal compilations reaching out to the illicit embassy.
Opposition voices rise
It is not only the legal issues that are setting up challenges to the US president’s al-Quds decision. Less than a week after his official announcement, in addition to Muslim states the streets of various cities across the EU, including France, Germany, Britain, Spain, Austria, and Italy which hold the closest ties with the US have witnessed heavy turnout of people protesting the controversial decision on al-Quds. The rallies in Beirut led to clashes of the protestors with the security guards near the American embassy. In Cairo, despite the fact of the existence of a government ban on demonstrations, thousands of people took to the streets and burned the American and Israeli flags while chanting slogans against Washington and Tel Aviv. The Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has announced that his country was “ready” to send military forces in defense of al-Quds. And the Jordanian lawmakers have talked about plans to review all of the agreements reached with Tel Aviv in the past.
In addition to the popular and state protests in the region, the Europeans have proven that they are seriously against the move. EU foreign ministers have firmly rejected Israeli Prime Minister’s request to recognize al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the occupying regime’s capital.
Opposition from across the European spectrum came as Netanyahu made the first official trip on Monday to the EU by a sitting Israeli premier in 22 years.
Even the Czech Republic, one of Israel’s closest allies, said the US president’s decision was bad for peace efforts. France said Jerusalem’s status could be agreed only in a final deal between Israelis and Palestinians.