By Akeel Rashid
The US President, Donald Trump, on Wednesday this week, signed the waiver on ‘1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act’ (which successive US Presidents’ have maintained as a norm since its inception) and therefore postponed the shift of US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (Al-Quds) by another six months. At the same time, Trump gave verbal consent to his 2016 Presidential campaign pledge by recognizing Occupied Jerusalem as the capital of the Israel. Hither to, the approach of United States had been that Jerusalem’s status should be negotiated between Israel and Palestine. Almost every Muslim state in the Middle East and Gulf strongly disapproved the announcement made by President Trump regarding the so called settlement of the Jerusalem issue grossly in the favor of Israel. It is pertinent to mention here that barring a few states including the US that operate their consulates in Jerusalem, all other 86 states have their embassies in Tel Aviv.
Why Israel Wants Parent States to Relocate its Embassies?
Although there are no technical requirements for a parent state to have its embassy in the capital of the host state but on the basis of International Customary Law, the location of embassies in a particular territory of a host state becomes a determinant of recognizing that territory by the parent state as being the former state’s sovereignty. So, it is clear that the Israel is attempting to gain legitimate control over the Jerusalem territory by coaxing the world community, in general, and the US, in particular, to move embassies there.
Violation of International Law
The capture of east Jerusalem by Israel during the 1967 War and thereby annexing and declaring the entire city (East and West) as its capital is a clear cut violation of International Law and the same can be explained with the application of International Law on ‘Belligerent Occupation’ (found in Article 42, Hague Regulations of 1907). The law implies that when a belligerent state invades the territory of another state, the sovereignty of the latter state is not vested in the former state and thus International Law prohibits the occupying state from annexing the occupied territory or creating another state out of it.
Why does the Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital by the United States matter?
Earlier this year, Russia also declared East Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but the same did not provoke any reaction and condemnation from either Palestinians or Muslim states. Firstly, President Trump has proclaimed Jerusalem as a whole (East and West) as the capital of Israel which has infuriated the Palestinians and the Muslim Community. Secondly, United States is a key player in the Palestine-Israel conflict which has had played a major role in mediating major settlements and accords between the two conflicting parties and by showing a partial approach towards the settlement of Palestine-Israel conflict, the United States has created a deadlock which risks an outbreak of violence in the region.
A Diplomatic Test for Muslim States
With Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan inviting leaders of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for a summit in Istanbul on Dec 13 over the Jerusalem issue, it remains to be seen whether the summit meet would achieve anything that will be necessary and feasible to counter the move of United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital which the OIC comprising states have already rejected. The outcome of OIC summit is going to manifest the ‘diplomatic power’ vested in the International Organization (OIC) without which it has no real importance in international politics.
—The author is a Student of International Relations (Peace and Conflict Studies), at the IUST, Awantipora. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org