Today is a significant, historic day in Israel and throughout the Jewish world. It is 70 years to the day since Israel declared its independence. The United States has formally moved its embassy to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing Israel’s true capital and the country’s right — like any sovereign nation — to determine where that capital should be located.
Yet, today is also a missed opportunity to affirm that American policy remains that Jerusalem will eventually be a shared capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state. Doing so would demonstrate the US commitment to a two-state solution and turn today from solely an Israeli celebration into one that can be shared by both sides.
Today is also a cause for great concern, as we witness the growing number of casualties on the Gaza border with Israel. Israel has the absolute right and obligation to protect its citizens, and clearly it cannot allow Palestinians, armed or otherwise, to cross the border and invade Israeli communities adjacent to the border.
The riots at the Gaza border fence today cannot be excused by the embassy move, but there is no question that the conjunction of dedicating the embassy in Jerusalem the day before the Palestinians mark Naqba Day is unnecessarily inflammatory and plays into the hands of those seeking to stoke tensions. This move, which was always guaranteed to ratchet up tensions and make the resumption of productive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations far more difficult, could have been done in a way that would have minimized the damage rather than exacerbate it.
As Israel’s leadership and top American officials celebrate in Jerusalem, dozens of Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, and the optics of this juxtaposition will reverberate well beyond today.
While we applaud the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, we urge the Trump Administration — as we did when the embassy relocation was announced last December — to clearly and unreservedly establish that the US position on Jerusalem is that it will eventually be the capital of two states. Doing so will send a message that the U.S. stands by Israel as a vital ally and that it is also committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the only viable and sustainable outcome for both sides.
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