Comment by Prof. Efraim Inbar
Arabs denounced President Donald Trump’s plan to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem as a slap in the face but few thought their governments would do much in response.
Trump phoned allies in the Middle East late on Tuesday to tell them the United States would acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday and prepare to move its embassy there.
“It incites feelings of anger among all Muslims and threatens world peace,” said Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, Imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque, one of Islam’s most important institutions.
“The gates of hell will be opened in the West before the East,” he added, warning of the possible reaction.
Israel’s sovereignty over East Jerusalem, which it seized in the 1967 war, is not recognized internationally, and under the U.S.-brokered Oslo accords of 1993 the city’s status was to be decided in negotiations with Palestinians.
Arab governments issued statements of concern or condemnation and emergency meetings of both the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation have been called. But the U.S. decision has been taken.
In a bitterly divided region, backing for Palestinians is often seen as a unifying position, but it is also often a source of internal recriminations over the extent of that support.
A cartoon in al-Arabi al-Jadeed, a London-based Arabic news website, showed Trump raising a hand against an Arab as if to slap him, wearing a large glove marked with the Israeli flag.
In Lebanon, the Daily Star newspaper ran a full page photograph of Jerusalem on its cover with the headline “No offense Mr. President, Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine”.