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US Senate passes resolution declaring Jerusalem 'undivided' capital of Israel

June 6, 2017 9:15 P.M. (Updated: June 7, 2017 11:22 P.M.)
A general view of Jerusalem's Old City is seen on April 14, 2014. (AFP/Thomas Coex/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Less than a week after US President Donald Trump signed a presidential waiver preventing the moving of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the US Senate passed a resolution on Monday -- the 50th anniversary of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territory -- declaring Jerusalem the “undivided” capital of Israel.

The non-binding resolution, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, was passed with widespread bipartisan support with a vote of 90-0, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Senate passed the resolution in order to express its support for the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which would move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Trump signed a presidential waiver to prevent the act’s implementation last week, following on the footsteps of every US president since the act’s introduction.

The resolution’s passing also came on the same day that Palestinians around the world commemorated the “Naksa,” meaning “setback,” marking the Israeli invasion and occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai, and the Golan Heights that began on June 5, 1967 during the Six-Day War, displacing some 300,000 Palestinians, as well as thousands of Syrians, from their homes.

While Israel officially annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, according to Palestinians and the international community the city has remained an intricate part of the occupied Palestinian territory and would be considered the capital of any future Palestinian state.

The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the "Judaization" of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.
Earlier this year, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution confirming US commitment as a diplomatic ally to the Israeli government, and demanded that the US government dismiss any future UN resolutions they deemed “anti-Israel,” following the passage of a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

Meanwhile, reports emerged last week that the US Congress and the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, would mark the 50th year of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory during a joint video event on Tuesday. Either US President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence were expected to attend the event on Capitol Hill to celebrate what Israelis refer to as the “reunification of Jerusalem.”

In response to the event, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement that the move was “unprecedented” and “provocative” and that the US Congress was “singularly contravening longstanding American policy and becoming party to Israel’s egregious violation of international law and international humanitarian law.”

“If the US wants to play a constructive role as a peacemaker rather than as a supporter of an illegal occupation, it must demonstrate respect for the law and recognition of equal rights for all peoples, foremost the Palestinian right to self-determination and freedom,” Ashrawi concluded.

Meanwhile, on the issue of Palestine, Trump has remained largely elusive, saying in February that when it came to a solution for the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict he could “live with either” a one- or two-state solution, in a significant departure from the US’ publicly held position in favor of a two-state solution to the conflict.

However, his elusiveness has not belied the fact that Trump and his administration have maintained their pro-Israel stance, despite stated efforts to renew the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which he said in the past was "not as difficult as people have thought over the years.”
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