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Connecticut Delegation, Community Leaders React To Trump Declaration On Jerusalem

Dec 6, 2017

President Donald Trump’s declaration that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, along with his announcement that he plans to move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel-Aviv, raised concerns among critics who say it could disrupt any hope for a long-awaited peace.

Connecticut’s Second District Representative Joe Courtney called the declaration a mistake and said now is not the right time for instability.

“Simultaneous with his statement, the State Department had to issue a travel advisory for U.S. citizens going to Jerusalem and to Israel and the Department of Defense actually put the military on alert for our troops that are stationed in the Middle East,” Courtney said.

Anat Biletzki, a professor at Quinnipiac University and a retired professor at Tel Aviv University, said Trump’s declaration ignored the Palestinian side of this conflict.

“Living there, especially for Palestinians, is fraught with tension and violence and bloodshed and hopes that are constantly dashed,” Biletzki said. “That’s what I think Trump just added to now -- anybody who’s talking about a peace process, anybody who thinks that there might in the end be two capitals for two states there, a Palestinian state and a Jewish state, just had their faces slapped.”

She’s concerned about Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas call for “three days of rage” across the area, a threat he’d follow through on if Trump made the declaration.

“That is just a very momentary worry, but it’s a very real worry. I hate to think of what might happen in three days of rage,” she said.

Like Biletzki, Reza Mansoor, the president of the Islamic Association of Greater Hartford, is worried about unrest developing out of what was already a sensitive situation.

“Simple things that we consider simple like [installing] metal detectors, is such a sensitive issue as we saw a few months ago that there were riots in the street and people died because this is such a sensitive site,” Mansoor said.

He believes that Trump’s declaration passed over not only Palestinian Muslims, but also Palestinian Christians.

“It’s extremely important of a holy spiritual site,” Mansoor said. “But now, when you say you’re going to move [the embassy] to Jerusalem and not even mention a Palestinian part of Jerusalem, that means you’ve already taken a position. You’ve taken a side without consulting both sides. ”

Mansoor pointed out the Haram-Al Sharif in Jerusalem as being vital to Palestinian Muslims, while also acknowledging that for Christians, it’s an area where Jesus Christ preached.

Senator Richard Blumenthal made a statement Wednesday regarding the declaration.

“Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and I’ve strongly supported acknowledging that simple fact,” Blumenthal said. “My hope is that the President’s announcement of his recognition of Jerusalem will be followed by meaningful steps to advance the peace process, including secure borders for Israel and a two-state solution.”

Blumenthal addressed the situation the night before on CNN.

Senator Chris Murphy also acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel while expressing a concern for peace between the two states.

“Israel is our most important ally in the Middle East,” Murphy said. “Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of the state of Israel. I continue to believe that we should recognize it as such and move our embassy there when the time is right as part of a comprehensive peace agreement. I am concerned that President Trump’s decision was made without fully considering the political and security implications, and will further set back any hope of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Trump did not reveal a timetable for the move but recommended that the State Department now make preparations.