WASHINGTON – More than 200 Muslims demonstrated here Friday outside the White House against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Protests against the move have occurred across the Muslim world since Wednesday, when Trump made that declaration and also said he was instructing the State Department to begin the process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City.
Taher Herzallah, associate director of outreach and grassroots organization at the American Muslims for Palestine association, which organized the protest, told EFE Friday the move would provoke tensions in the region.
One group of more than 100 barefoot demonstrators knelt in prayer outside the presidential residence while another group stood around them, some carrying signs such as “Jerusalem is for Everyone” and “Jerusalem is Palestine.”
Herzallah said Trump’s declaration brought an end to the United States’ “impartiality as a mediator” in efforts to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, adding that the president had made it clear what his position is and whose side he is on.
The move runs counter to decades of American policy regarding the Jerusalem issue, the activist lamented.
(Although a 1995 act of Congress had called for the US Embassy in Israel to be moved to Jerusalem within four years, that law included a provision allowing the president to sign a waiver maintaining the embassy in Tel Aviv, a practice adopted by Trump’s predecessors.)
Representatives of different Muslim rights organizations took part in Friday’s White House protest, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Circle of North America for Social Justice.
In the wake of Trump’s announcement, the United Nations said Jerusalem’s status should not be decided unilaterally but instead negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians, who see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
The US has become the lone country to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to announce plans to move its embassy there.
In 1980, the UN called on the international community to move its embassies away from Jerusalem after Israel enacted a law that formally declared Israeli sovereignty over the entire city and affirmed it as the nation’s united capital.