Wednesday’s move by President Donald Trump to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. Embassy there was not unexpected but will likely fuel more violence in the region, local residents whose loyalties lie on both sides of the Israel/Palestine conflict said.
“It’s a cosmetic decision,” said Kindy Ghussin, a Muslim who grew up in Jerusalem and now serves on the board of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton. “The system is already broken… the system is discriminatory toward Muslims and Christians. It doesn’t do anything for peace except hacking it with a machete.”
Trump’s announcement broke with decades of U.S. and international policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Despite urgent appeals from Arab and European leaders and the risk of anti-American protests and violence, Trump declared that he was ending an approach that for decades has failed to advance the prospects for peace. He also for the first time personally endorsed the concept of a “two-state solution” for Israel and the Palestinians, provided both sides agree to it.
Jerusalem includes the holiest ground in Judaism. It’s also home to Islam’s third-holiest shrine and major Christian sites. Perceived threats to Muslim claims to the city in the past has triggered protests in the Holy Land and beyond.
Rabbi Eric Slaton of the Beth Israel Synagogue in Hamilton said he believes the move could have a positive effect.
“There is no peace process. … Neither peoples at this point show a great inclination to take the risk for peace that is necessary. Both peoples would have to take a serious risk for peace, and perhaps this may shake things up.”
He added, “While I recognize that there are some issues about sovereignty, the Palestinians haven’t participated in any peace talks for a very long time.”
Shakila Ahmad, board chair and president of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati in West Chester Twp., said many people, not just Palestinian or Arab, feel Wednesday’s decision is unwarranted and could threaten the peace process.
“To make a unilateral decision like this can affect the peace process and hope for peace in that region,” she said. “For the president of the United States to make this decision seems very unfair.”
Ahmad said the move seemed to be more in line with a campaign promise made by Trump, rather than a sound policy decision.
“As I have a chance to review more details, there just doesn’t appear to be an urgent need to make this decision right now,” she said. “Obviously, this is something that seems to be a political move rather than a step towards creating peace or working within the peace process.”
Staff writer Katie Wedell and The Associated Press contributed to this article.