On Wednesday afternoon, President Trump will announce formal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and begin the process of moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This has been met with widespread concern from other nations and the promise of a ‘day of rage’ by Palestinian groups.
There are serious concerns that this tension could escalate into violence. There is also a possibility that American institutions, companies and individuals will be targeted in other countries. US Government employees and their families have been banned from travel in Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank. If you or a client are visiting or working in a country that has a history of anti-American sentiment, please review and act on safety considerations as soon as possible.
We have put together a summary of the news to date, as well as travel warnings and advisories.
Moves on an embassy move
The Trump White House has been trailing the possibility of relocating the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for several months, prompting warnings from leaders around the world.
Voice of America explains –
Under U.S. law signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, the U.S. must relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem unless the president waives the requirement on national security grounds, something required every six months. If the waiver isn’t signed and the embassy doesn’t move, the State Department would lose half its funding for its facilities and their security around the world.
President Trump signed his first waiver earlier this summer. The next waiver signing was due on Monday, but the White House announced a decision had not been reached and it did not happen. Over the weekend his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has been tasked with creating a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine, said the President was undecided on what would happen next.
Dismay and concern
Also over the weekend, leaders from France, the EU, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan warned against moving the embassy.
Recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was reportedly resisted from the State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs bureau – according to Reuters, “senior (officials) in NEA and a number of ambassadors from the region expressed their deep concern about doing this.”
Pope Francis said he was “profoundly concerned” and President Erdogan says President Trump has crossed a red line. This piece from the AP is keeping track of responses from other politicians around the world, including the UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and some senior Russian officials.
From the US Embassy in Tel Aviv (5th December 2017) –
With widespread calls for demonstrations beginning December 6 in Jerusalem and the West Bank, U.S. government employees and their family members are not permitted until further notice to conduct personal travel in Jerusalem’s Old City and in the West Bank, to include Bethlehem and Jericho. Official travel by U.S. government employees in Jerusalem’s Old City and in the West Bank is permitted only to conduct essential travel and with additional security measures. United States citizens should avoid areas where crowds have gathered and where there is increased police and/or military presence. We recommend that U.S. citizens take into consideration these restrictions and the additional guidance contained in the Department of State’s travel warning for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza when making decisions regarding their travel.
Please click here to read more.
#OPT Protests and demonstrations expected across the West Bank from 6 to 8 December; avoid any demonstrations, follow instructions of local authorities and keep up to date with our travel advice: https://t.co/qwO98Xm2Xn pic.twitter.com/LmN7ZqI7OX
— FCO travel advice (@FCOtravel) December 6, 2017
Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: “Day of Rage” protests will take place in Jerusalem and the West Bank from December 6 to 8. Plan your movements accordingly and avoid affected areas. https://t.co/TmBhnxVQeZ
— travel.gc.ca (@TravelGoC) December 6, 2017
Widespread calls for demonstrations beginning Dec. 6 in Jerusalem & the West Bank. US gov’t employees & family restricted from personal travel in Jerusalem’s Old City & in the West Bank. US citizens should avoid crowds and areas with increased police and/or military presence. pic.twitter.com/BZvc9veeyp
— Travel – State Dept (@TravelGov) December 5, 2017
#Israel: Demonstrations likely in Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank from 6-8 December. Avoid affected areas and monitor local information sources. Anticipate a heightened security presence. Be prepared to change your travel plans https://t.co/iEgXtwVRpR
— Smartraveller (@Smartraveller) December 6, 2017
From the FCO –
Palestinian factions have called for three ‘days of rage’ in the West Bank from 6 to 8 December 2017 in anticipation of a major US announcement on the status of Jerusalem. Protests and demonstrations are expected to take place across the West Bank, including at checkpoints. You should avoid any demonstrations, follow the instructions of the local police authorities and keep up to date with our travel advice.
Please click here to read more.
- From the US State Department: Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
- From the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories
- From the Canadian Government: Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
- From the Australian Government: Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank
- From the Government of New Zealand: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories
- From the Irish Government: Israel and the Occupied Territories
- Voice of America: Officials: Trump Mulls Calling Jerusalem Israel’s Capital
- Voice of America: Arab Leaders Warn Against US Recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli Capital
- Reuters: Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, defying warnings of unrest
- The International Business Times: Pope Francis ‘profoundly concerned’ by Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital
- BBC: US to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in world first
- BBC: US recognition of Jerusalem ‘kiss of death’ for peace process
- NPR: Risking Backlash, Trump Plans To Recognize Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital
- Al Jazeera: US sends security warnings amid Trump’s Jerusalem move
- The Associated Press: The Latest: Palestinian PM: Trump ruining two-state solution
- The Independent: Erdogan tells Trump declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital is ‘red line’ for Muslims
- The Guardian: Trump risks backlash as he prepares to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
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