Posted on May 14, 2018 in Press Releases


May 14, 2018

CONTACT: Jennifer Salan / (202) 429-9210 

Statement from Arab American Institute Deputy Director Omar Baddar on Moving the Israel Embassy to Jerusalem:

Today, the Trump Administration has opened a US embassy in Jerusalem, cementing his decision to recognize the city as Israel’s capital. Trump’s decision breaks with previous administrations, making his the first to accede to congressional pandering on Israel, in violation of international law. Recognizing the sensitivity and significance of Jerusalem to so many religious communities around the globe, the 1947 UN partition plan protected the city from falling under one state’s control, mandating it fall under international jurisdiction. That’s why the UN not only condemned Trump’s decision to recognize the city as Israel’s capital by an overwhelming vote, but has repeatedly and consistently rejected all of Israel’s efforts to change the status of the city.

This embassy move cannot be understood in isolation of its context: Israel illegally annexed Palestinian East Jerusalem, and continues to carry out a campaign of displacement of Palestinians in the city, demolishing their homes, revoking their residency, and allowing Israeli settlers to take their property. The Trump Administration has not uttered a single word against Israel’s usurpation of Jerusalem, and his State Department has even dropped the use of the word “occupation” altogether when describing Israel’s presence on Palestinian lands. Coupling these actions with Trump’s repeated assertion that Jerusalem has been taken “off the table,” this decision amounts to an American endorsement of Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights in Jerusalem. Peace requires some degree of justice, and denying Palestinians their capital is too great an injustice for any lasting peace agreement to emerge. In that sense, this decision by the Trump Administration scores a critical blow against the already weak prospect of peace in the foreseeable future.

Emboldened by Trump’s decision, Israel has already stepped up anti-Palestinian measures, passing laws to separate Palestinian neighborhoods from Jerusalem, easing the revoking of Palestinians’ residency, and complicating any potential Israeli withdrawal from any part of the city. Apart from the fundamental unfairness imposed on Palestinians, the embassy move also risks to spark renewed violence, as the situation appears increasingly like a powder keg. This is true on the ground where Israel kills unarmed Palestinian demonstrators with impunity, as well as regionally, where Trump’s withdrawal from the ‘Iran Deal’ and Israel’s increasing military activities in Syria have set the stage for an escalation. The embassy move in this context is yet another reckless decision by the Trump Administration that could directly lead to unnecessary loss of human life. We condemn this decision in the strongest terms, and call on “the adults in the room”, both in Congress and the White House, to find constructive measures to mitigate the damage resulting from the irresponsible actions of this administration.


Founded in 1985, the Arab American Institute (AAI) is a nonprofit organization committed to the civic and political empowerment of Americans of Arab descent. AAI provides policy, research and public affairs services to support a broad range of community activities. For more information please visit