The Trump administration is celebrating the U.S. embassy in Israel moving to Jerusalem, as tensions in the region continue to increase.
On Sunday, National Security Advisor John Bolton praised the move as one that will “make it easier” to achieve a peace agreement.
“If you’re not prepared to recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and that’s where the American embassy should be, then you’re operating on a completely different wavelength,” he told ABC News anchor Martha Raddatz. “I think recognizing reality always enhances the chances for peace.”
But here’s what the reality actually looks like.
As the president’s family members and senior advisors Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner visit Israel for the embassy move, AFP reports that Israel is doubling its troops surrounding the blockaded Gaza and the occupied West Bank to deal with expected mass protests. Up to 100,000 Palestinians are expected to protest this week at the Gaza Border and in the West Bank.
Tens of thousands of hardline Israeli nationalists also participated in the annual Flag March in Jerusalem on Sunday, celebrating the 1967 occupation of East Jerusalem. According to Haaretz, shops in the Muslim Quarter were warned that law enforcement could not protect them.
The U.S. embassy is expected to open in Jerusalem on Monday — a day before Palestinians will be marking Nakba Day, or the “Day of Catastrophe,” referencing the creation of Israel in 1948 and the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians from their homeland.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians are expected to protest the embassy’s move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The “Great March of Return” — in which Palestinians have been marching to the Gaza border to protest the blockade of Gaza and the refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return home — is also expected to culminate on Tuesday.
Already, Israeli forces have killed at least 49 Palestinians and injured more than 8,500 in the protests since March 30. One Palestinian was killed and more than 150 others were injured during protests along the Gaza border on Friday. Another Palestinian, just 15 years old, died of his wounds on Saturday.
Trump’s decision is controversial because Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since 1967, and the international community agrees that it is occupied territory today. Palestinians want to make East Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian state, while the far-right in Israel, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, view an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“For decades, the United States has held that this issue is one that must be mutually agreed upon between the parties, so recognizing Israel’s claims here and now ahead of an agreement is a marked shift away from even the pretense of a balanced position on Jerusalem to a full backing of the Israeli position,” Yousef Munayyer, executive director for the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, told ThinkProgress’ E.A. Crunden in December.
Only 32 countries will be joining Israel’s celebration of the embassy move, according to Haaretz, and nearly every E.U. ambassador in Israel is boycotting the event.
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