40 organizations unequivocally reject the United States administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel. The declaration, made on 6 December of this year, constitutes a serious threat to peace and security in the region, and a grave breach of the international legal order’s basic principles. It especially violates the principles of justice and equal rights of nations, the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination, in addition to contravening the absolute prohibition on land annexation by force and other acts of aggression. Our organizations regard this decision as severely undermining the political process initiated by the Madrid Conference of 1991 and the subsequent efforts to achieve a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The general principles of international law, as well as specialized UN resolutions concerning Jerusalem, have prohibited the recognition of the illegal situation resulting from changes made by the occupying power. The most salient resolutions in this regard are UNSC res. 276 of 1969 and UNSC res. 478, which considered that “all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem,(...), are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith." UNSC res. 2234 of 2016 has called upon all states to distinguish in the relevant dealings between the territory of the state of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967. In addition, there are tens of other resolutions –from the UNGA and specialized agencies such as UNESCO and the Human Rights Council -refuting the recognition of the annexation policies in East Jerusalem and elsewhere, most recently UNGA res. of 30 November 2017 that passed with a majority of 153 states.
The US decision, which utterly defies this international consensus and unilaterally strips Palestinians of their sovereignty over Jerusalem, constitutes a grave violation of third state responsibility. This violation renders the US a de facto accomplice in the international crimes committed in Jerusalem, including settlement construction, the forcibletransfer of Palestinians and land annexation by force, all of which have drawn international condemnation.
During the past three decades, the US has played the main role as a sponsor of a peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis. Despite its many biased positions, the US has continued to claim that it has an impartial standing, equidistant to both parties. The current Trump decision seriously undermines the US role as a guarantor of a just and sustainable solution to the conflict.
Jerusalem is not solely a city with symbolic nationalistic and spiritual valuefor the Palestinian people; it is the main guarantee of a viable and sovereignPalestinian state.For a Palestinian state to exist, Palestinians must have effective control in Jerusalem through the removal of all hindrances to movement and access to the city, caused by the annexation wall and tens of checkpoints. Failing which, a Palestinian state could only be established on several isolated enclaves in the northern and southern West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. Israel is currently passing legislation aiming to annex the large settlement blocks suffocating Jerusalem from its three sides (in the north, east and south) to the occupation's municipal borders. This will result in the annexation of thousands of kilometers from Palestinian land to the occupying state, and an end to the possibility of a viable sovereign Palestinian state.
The grave danger emanating from this US declaration makes it imperative for the international community and various governments to take concrete steps that go beyond condemnations. It is time to take action that will lead to effectively ending the grave breaches of international law imperiling peace and security in the region.
The UN bodies and agencies, as well as regional organizations and individual state governments, particularly in Arab states, need to swiftly act to pressure the US to retract its decision. Anything short of a retractionmeans that the global community accepts that theAmerican government has the authority to unilaterally prevent the implementation of the most fundamental of human justices: the right of a people to restore and live freely within their national homeland; a homeland with the right to determine its destiny like all other nations in the world.
Our organizations further warn of the Israeli reaction to Palestinian anger, especially Israeli’s recurrence to the disproportionate use of violence against Palestinians’ legitimate right to demonstrate and protest the American decision. This reaction may further exacerbate the situation and lead to greater instability and intensification of conflicts in the region.