Media Summary

World leaders react to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem

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All the British papers and broadcast media cover US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Guardian put the story on its front page with the headline “Anger as Trump declares Jerusalem Israel’s capital”. The Independent front page story is “Protests erupt after Trump declares Jerusalem Israel’s capital”.

BICOM CEO James Sorene has been discussing the decision on Sky News, BBC World Service Newshour, LBC’s Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, and BBC Radio 5 Live at Breakfast.

BBC News Online notes that despite Trump’s insistence he was not pre-judging his peace initiative, saying: “he didn’t offer the Palestinians anything, and the speech came across as an endorsement of Israel.” The BBC also reports that Saudi Arabia called the decision “unjustified and irresponsible” and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas denouncing the decision as “deplorable”. BBC Radio 4’s Today programme focused on the Security Council session that has been called for tomorrow.

The Times reports that Israeli security forces are putting contingency plans in place for an expected Palestinian response to President Trump’s announcement.

The Times also features an article explaining the history of Jerusalem, how it relates to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and why the recognition by the US has caused such anger.

Writing in the Times Richard Spencer notes that he believes Trump recognised Jerusalem as “a way of favouring Israel — or its supporters among America’s wealthy political donors, as some see it — while thumbing a nose at Iran without triggering a war that would require American intervention, because the Palestinians have little fight left in them. The rest, for Mr Trump, matters little”.

Writing in the Independent Donald Macintyre argues that Trump’s decision demonstrates his lack of understanding of the Middle East and that in the rush to fulfil a campaign promise, the US president has chosen to ignore the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Telegraph focuses on the Saudi response to the speech with Saudi state media reporting that a member of the royal court has called the move “irresponsible”. The paper also features an editorial in which it argues that having recognised Jerusalem, Trump must now focus on “getting new Israel-Palestine peace talks off the ground”.

The Guardian reports on the reaction of everyday Palestinians in the Shuafat refugee camp, where the decision has been met with outrage and calls for a new intifada. The paper also reports on the reaction of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who said he opposed “any unilateral measures that would jeopardise the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians”. In another article, the Guardian questions whether the peace process will be able to survive Trump’s decision, concluding that “one thing, however, is quite clear. On Wednesday, history, expert warnings, a body of diplomatic knowledge and experience were comprehensively ripped up, along with any imminent prospects of a deal”.

The Guardian also features an editorial detailing the “deep anxiety” that is being felt by residents of Jerusalem, Arab and Jewish alike, over the violence that could possibly be unleashed by the decision.

Rashid Khalidi writing in the Guardian argues that Trump’s “error” will prove to be a disaster for the Arab world, but also for the US’s role in the Middle East. He concludes that “this is a sad day for international law, for Palestine, and for everyone who cares about peace in the Middle East”.

Jonathan Freedland writing in the Guardian argues that “the US President’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel turns a naked flame on the single most combustible issue in the conflict”.

The Independent reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has personally thanked Trump for his decision, stating that “the Jewish people and the Jewish state will be forever grateful”.

The Express reports on the protests that have broken out across the Middle East in response to the announcement, with several hundred protesters gathering outside the US Consulate in Jerusalem. Large protests also took place in Istanbul and Turkey’s foreign ministry condemned the decision as “irresponsible” and called on Washington to reverse the move.

The FT features an editorial in which the paper argues that Trump’s decision to recognise “the holy city as Israel’s capital is a senseless provocation”.

In other news, the Guardian reports on comments made by Israel’s Security Minister that he was concerned by antisemitic views expressed at the highest levels of the UK Labour Party.

Boris Johnson writes in the Daily Telegraph that the UK should build on its success fighting ISIS and “lead the global war against Islamist terror”.

The Israeli media is dominated by Trump’s announcement. Yediot Ahronoth’s front page publishes an excerpt from a longer English language version of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s statement, titled “thank you, President Trump”. Maariv leads on “the Trump Declaration” while Haaretz headlines “Trump: US Recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital”.

Maariv reports on the response from Israeli politicians and leaders to the announcement. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said: “This is an historic declaration that sends a clear message to the entire world saying that the US stands by the side of the Jewish people, the State of Israel and Jerusalem.” Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid said: “Jerusalem was and will remain our capital. We will welcome the US Embassy in Jerusalem.” Zionist Union Chairman Avi Gabbay said: “70 years after the establishment of the State of Israel, I am pleased that our important friend, the United States, also recognises Jerusalem as our capital and is making preparations to move the embassy.”

In the papers’ analysis pages Israel Hayom’s Amnon Lord argues that recognising reality will promote peace, while Haaretz’s Nir Hasson brings reports from conversations with residents of East Jerusalem: “Trump’s statement was perceived as irrelevant to their lives. For most Palestinians living in Jerusalem, Trump’s words pose little to no threat, as they’ve got nothing left to lose: It’s not as if before Trump delivered his speech, there were plans to set up a real Palestine with Al Quds, as Jerusalem is called in Arabic, as its capital.”

Writing in Yediot Ahronoth, Nachum Barnea, Shimon Shiffer and Alon Pinkas argue separately about the need to keep the announcement in perspective. Barnea says that Israel needs “to place this speech in its proper proportions. It is neither a third Palestinian Nakba nor a second Israeli November 29 [the 1947 UN vote to establish the State of Israel]. As Trump said in his speech, it reflects reality”. Moreover, he argues that “with all due respect to their [the international community’s] concerns, this time they are wrong. Trump is right… the 70-year-old refusal by the world to formally recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was a foolish mistake, which was the result of diplomatic cowardice and neglect by Israeli governments. The time has come to correct that mistake”.  Pinkas writes that “The left wing’s outcry about the “timing” and about “putting the final touches on the end of the peace process” are a bit ridiculous. There is no peace process and, in any case, the timing is of no importance. The right wing’s cries of joy are ridiculous to the same degree. The US has now recognised an ostensibly united Jerusalem with its 40 per cent Palestinians who have the right to vote; a Jerusalem that abuts a Palestinian Authority that talks loudly about ‘one state’. Shiffer suggests that the Israeli right wing shouldn’t overly celebrate: “after the turn of events last night, the Prime Minister is now liable to find himself under American pressure, which will be supported by Europe, to reveal his true intentions. The idea of “two states,” which is unacceptable to the Israeli right wing, will find itself back on the agenda in full force”.

Kan Radio News reports this morning that a State Department document asked Israel to moderate its official response to the decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital due to fears about possible attacks on American installations and citizens in the Middle East and other regions. American representatives in Europe were asked to stress that President Trump’s decision did not change the fact that the question of sovereignty in Jerusalem would only be resolved in permanent status arrangement negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.