President Trump is expected to officially recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, and that he will eventually relocate the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. The announcement, expected at 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, has already set off a global firestorm as the U.S. unilaterally upsets the diplomatic balance in the Middle East.
The move upends decades of U.S. government policy, as East Jerusalem is still considered by most governments around the world to be occupied Palestinian territory.
In the original 1947 United Nations partition plan, Jerusalem was set to be administered by an international authority, with access given to both Israelis and Palestinians. After the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Israel began occupying the western half of the city and Jordan took control of the eastern half. And after the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel took control of East Jerusalem and began occupying the West Bank, the Israeli government quickly annexed the remaining parts of the city.
Ever since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993 by the Palestinian political leadership and the Israeli government, the expectation has been that a divided Jerusalem — the west for Israelis, the east for the Palestinians — would be the compromise necessary for a two-state solution. But with no final peace deal in sight and increasing Israeli settlement activity carving parts of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the prospects for a two-state solution have never been bleaker.
Presently, there are about 320,000 Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem. They are permanent “residents” without formal citizenship and many civil rights. In recent years, they have come under increasing pressure to leave the city in order to make space for Jewish settlers.
Seb Walker was in Jerusalem for VICE News Tonight and filed this report on how residents are bracing for the announcement from Washington.
This segment originally aired Dec. 5, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.