Foreign Policy Watch: India-Middle East

What US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital means


Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Jerusalem-historical importance and position (map based)

Mains level: Isreal-palestine conflict and itrs ramifications on world

Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

  1. At a planned speech US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel
  2. Turkey said that “This could plunge the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight”

What is the big deal about Jerusalem?

  1. Jerusalem is emblematic of the Israel-Palestine conflict
  2. There is a tussle over who gets to control the ancient city that is sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians
  3. Fight is over both faith and civic space
  4. Jerusalem has the Western Wall, part of the mount on which the Holy Temple stood, containing the Holy of Holies, the most sacred Jewish site where Jews believe the foundation creating the world was located
  5. It also contains the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son
  6. And the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, and where he rose again

How this conflict started?

  1. After the end of the First Arab-Israel War in 1948, Jerusalem was partitioned into West and East, under Israeli and Palestinian control respectively
  2. But in June 1967, during the Six-Day Arab-Israel War, Israel snatched East Jerusalem from Jordanian forces, and Israel’s Parliament declared the territory had been “annexed to Israel” and Jerusalem had been “reunited”
  3. This marginalised the Palestinians, who wanted East Jerusalem to be their capital under the “two-state solution”

International stand over the issue

  1. Despite Israel’s hold over its “united and eternal capital”, in December 2016, the UN reaffirmed that Jerusalem’s Palestinian territories were under “hostile occupation”
  2. Foreign embassies to Israel are in Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem
  3. The positions of countries on the status of the city differ by degrees, but virtually none recognise the Israeli claim
  4. India has traditionally backed a two-state solution

What does Trump hope to gain?

  1. As with most political developments in the Middle East, a bigger regional game could be afoot
  2. This could be, possibly, a US-Saudi-Israel alliance against Iran, the common enemy
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