CHICAGO (CBS) — Israel — it’s a relatively small country, but on the minds of many around the world Wednesday.
Specifically, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv — two cities 40 miles apart — and the question of which should be the capital.
In a move that has strong support and oppression, President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Doing so, he reversed decades of U.S. policy; a move critics fear risks intense fallout throughout the Middle East.
In a tweet, Trump said, “I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
“This is another gut punch he has given the Muslim community,” said Gregory Abdullah Mitchell, who’s with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.
Mitchell says the announcement ignores the role Jerusalem plays in the Muslim Faith, and underestimates its repercussions.
“Not only for Palestinians who live in the area, but for Muslims worldwide.”
Jerusalem is Israel’s Holiest City, but also home to one of Islam’s most sacred sites. The Palestinians have wanted East Jerusalem as their own capitol for years.
Jay Tcath, who’s with the Jewish United Fund, said Trump’s announcement “sends a message that America is following reality.”
Tcath points out President Trump’s decision to eventually relocate the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem does not deviate from what has been diplomatic practice for decades.
“For 70 years, Israeli government business with every foreign country has taken place in Jerusalem,” Tcath said.
Protests have already broken out in the West Bank, while those on both sides of the issue share concern about the days ahead.
“Those who are opposed to peace will exploit this,” Tcath said.
“These actions are going to further fan discord, and not just verbally — you have the wild ones who take it a step further,” Mitchell said.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his nation was “profoundly grateful” and that Mr. Trump’s announcement was an “important step toward peace.
The move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is estimated to take four years.