Local Jews, Muslims react to Trump Mideast game-changer

Jerusalem's Temple Mount in Israel (Pixabay / MGN Online)

“Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel's capital,” said President Donald Trump, carrying out a campaign promise and upending seven decades of American policy, which president-by-president, tried to thread a Mideast needle.

“Jubilation,” said Israeli-born, local attorney Sigal Chattah, catching her breath on a day the White House made the big embassy change, ordering the State Department to begin the process of moving America’s main diplomatic presence out of Tel Aviv.

In a region where peace remains elusive, Jerusalem was always a puzzle: who gets to plant a flag on a city different faiths call home.

In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, recognizing the city as Israel's capital.

Republican Dean Heller said today, America is keeping its word.

"Today's decision sends a message to our strongest and oldest ally in the Middle East: the United States Senate stands with Israel," the Senator said in a statement.

RELATED | Trump flouts warnings, declares Jerusalem Israel's capital

Chattah tells me she does not know if today makes Israel safer, but she says it does give it comfort.

“I think one of things that gives Israel confidence is the fact that the U.S. unilaterally recognizes Jerusalem as its capital,” she says. “Once the dust has settled on that, I think you’ll find many more countries following the U.S. lead.”

Many in the Muslim world say Jerusalem is a city to be shared, not claimed. Members of our local Muslim community say this abrupt shift could have consequences for the peace process, as angered Arabs and Palestinians dig-in their heels. Imam Hanafi, at the Masjid As-Sabur mosque, said it’s “unfortunate that decision was made away from the negotiating table.” He says we’ll have to “wait and see if it causes some sort of backlash.”

“It’s terrible,” says Seth Morrison, a national board member with the group Jewish Voice for Peace. “It basically ensures the United States can no longer be an honest broker. It reinforces the Israeli occupation.”

RELATED | Trump forges ahead on Jerusalem-as-capital despite warnings

Our Democrat in the Senate, Catherine Cortez Masto, said today, "President Trump's decision undermines long-standing U.S. policy that the final status of Jerusalem should be decided as a part of a broader peace agreement between the Israeli and Palestinian people and their governments."

Other members of the local Jewish community urge patience.

“Jerusalem is one piece of the peace process,” says Todd Polikoff, the President and CEO of Jewish Nevada. “What we do know from the President’s statement today: this in no way pre-judges any final talking about the peace process. This in no way pre-judges the status of two states for two people, and I think there’s a process here that has to play out."

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