Jerusalem represents a major political, cultural, and religious center that both Israel and Palestine claim as their capital. To ease tensions, a UN resolution in 1980 aimed to preserve the status quo of Jerusalem by recognizing that it belonged to both nations thus preventing Israeli or Palestinian altercations. The UN wanted to make Jerusalem an international city with unbiased diplomatic missions. Though the U.S. abstained from voting on the resolution, last December marked a clear policy shift from the previous U.S. stance when President Trump decided to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump’s move represents a massive foreign policy shift for the U.S.  

However, the proposed relocation has not been well received by the international community. Last December, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted—128 to 9— to declare the Trump administration’s decision “null and void” in hopes of reversing it. Those 128 countries included major U.S. allies such as France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. This vote followed an earlier Security Council vote, in which the 14 other members unanimously voted to condemn the U.S. over the embassy’s move, which was vetoed by the U.S.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has lobbied Russian President Vladimir Putin and Jordan’s King Abdullah to pressure President Trump. Although the decision to move the embassy could strengthen our ties with our closest ally in the Middle East, the repercussions for the Israel-Palestine relationship, as well as our relationships with other allies, must be seriously considered.

 

For:

Over the past few years, the U.S.-Israeli relationship has been strained as a result of disagreements between former President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. President Trump’s commitment to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital could reinforce our relations with Israel.  

Israel is the U.S.’s main source of intelligence in the Middle East. That intelligence is said to be “unparalleled” and “benefits the U.S. in all sorts of ways.” Israel’s intelligence agencies work in tandem with the U.S. National Security Agency to aid each other. Our history together has been proven to be a deadly force against our common enemies. In 2010, the U.S. and Israel collaborated on a malware system called Stuxnet, designed to infiltrate Iran’s cyber infrastructure and disrupt their progress in nuclear weapons without involving any aggressive engagement. The system is still widely regarded as one of the most sophisticated malware systems in the world.

When two countries have possibly the greatest intelligence sharing alliance in the world, the partnership must be maintained. Based on past achievements, there is no doubt that continued partnership between the U.S. and Israel would be beneficial to both countries. Stuxnet was just an example of what the U.S. and Israel could create together. Trump’s decision could be the key to strengthening our relationship with Israel and allowing the alliance and friendship to grow.

 

Against:

A U.S. embassy move from Israel’s Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would disrupt current agreements and refuel the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Palestine has already threatened to revoke all its agreements with Israel and fuel unrest in Jerusalem should the transfer take place. This will not only drive the relationship between Israel and Palestine to a breaking point but also create complications with U.S. relations.  

When the fighting ended between Israel and Palestine in 1949 with an armistice, the resulting border gave Israel control of the western half of Jerusalem, while Jordon occupied the east. Israel also gained control of the eastern half in the Six-Day War in 1967 and subsequently declared Jerusalem as its capital in 1980. However, the UN Security Council was quick to declare that a violation of international law and ruled Jerusalem as international territory.

The long, hostile history between Israel and Palestine appeared to soften when peace treaties were signed and handshakes were exchanged between the leaders of Israel and Jordan. That belligerence seemed concluded, until President Trump’s embassy decision re-established it. All the progress that had been made over the past decades was erased by a single choice. There may still be time for Trump to repair the damage he has made before Palestine decides it is irreversible.

International relations are also strained, as the U.S. stands almost alone as a major power on Israel’s side. Not only has the rest of the world voted against Trump’s decision, but major allies such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany condemned it. Even though U.S. relations with Israel may be strengthened, it will harm other international relations.

Trump’s decision has a chance of threatening the U.S. position as a world leader by breaking international consensus. As a result, other countries may become unwilling to follow the U.S. If the trend continues, U.S. global influence will diminish.

The negatives outweigh the positives of relocation, and the end result of the negatives would be extremely harmful for the U.S. position in global politics. The embassy move has huge consequences and should be strongly reconsidered.