Journey back a couple of decades to 1995. With peace between Israelis and Palestinians seemingly within reach, President Clinton signed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This legislation looked forward to a day when the final status of Jerusalem was resolved. But peace proved elusive, and subsequent presidents for the next 20 years have made use of the Embassy Act’s waiver clause that allows the U.S. to keep our embassy in Tel Aviv to avoid upsetting the delicate status quo. Now enter the Trump Administration.
On December 6, 2017, President Trump broke with the precedent set by the last three administrations and announced that he would not be signing the waiver of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. He argued that the last 20 years of failed negotiations demanded a new approached, and he claimed that this decision was not taking a stance on the final status of the city.
Whatever the Trump Administration’s intentions might have been, the fallout from this decision has proven devastating. Demonstrations broke out in the West Bank and Gaza that claimed the lives of 16 Palestinians. An emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on December 13 condemned Trump’s decision and voted to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. But most significantly Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced on December 22 that he would reject any peace proposal brokered by the U.S. and called on the European Union to serve as the new mediator between Israel and Palestine.
In response, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) issued a press release expressing its concern over the President’s unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel outside of a negotiated peace agreement. The full text can be read below:
While visiting the Holy Land this past December, Executive Director Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon expressed her thoughts on the significance of Jerusalem to Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike and the importance of a shared Jerusalem. You can listen to her remarks in the videos below:
A Prayer for Jerusalem
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no strength is known but the strength of love: Watch over the the Holy City of Jerusalem that it may be like unto the Eternal Mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is complete in his humanity and divinity. May Jerusalem be recognized as the holy city of two nations–truly Israeli and truly Palestinian–without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; their distinctions being in no way annulled by their union, but rather the characteristics of each being fully preserved and coming together as one. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Andrew Wickersham, Government Relations Intern at Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)
CMEP is very thankful for the writers who contribute Spiritual Resources. However, CMEP does not necessarily agree with all the positions of our writers, and they do not speak on CMEP’s behalf.