Corridor leaders react to U.S. declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel
WATERLOO, Iowa (CBS 2/ FOX 28) —
On Wednesday, President Trump fulfilled a key campaign promise today by formally recognizing the holy city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
It is a statement long requested by Israel, but critics fear it could prove deadly in one of the most volatile regions of the world.
In the corridor, leaders in politics and religion shared their thoughts on what this could mean for the future in achieving lasting peace in the Middle East.
Some say President Trump's decision is alarming, while the other side of the debate argues this should not interfere with the goal to achieve peace after more than 70 years of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"All the 70 years so far is just take no give," said Ibrahim Shehata, President of the Islamic Foundation of Iowa, in Waterloo.
Shehata experienced the Israeli-Palestinian conflict firsthand while living in Egypt, as far back as when Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion first declared Israel a state in 1948.
Shehata believes mediation intended to support both sides of the conflict has mostly benefited Israel and not Palestinians, who he says first 'inherited the land, including Jerusalem.
"Jerusalem was the for the Muslims, the first [place] where [worshipers] would be directing themselves to prayer," he said.
Jerusalem is a holy city for Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, and it is one of three sacred places for the Muslim community.
"For those three places, 1.7 billion Muslims, from everywhere and anywhere in the world...it's a no-touch [zone]," he said. "It's the core belief for them that they will protect themselves and these places with their life."
With President Trump declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he says this will heighten tension in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"[The] United States is declaring as of today that they are not mediators anymore," said Shehata.
Opponents like Shehata may fear the United States will not be able to reach a two-state solution, as a declaration of an independent Palestinian state along with the state of Israel, in the region.
However, according to Tim Hagle, Associate Professor of the University of Iowa Politics department, "the counter-argument is, 'well the peace process hasn't been going well anyways,' and what this does is formally recognize Israel's capital," he said.
"One of the things that [President] Trump, specifically mentioned was that a country especially Israel, has the authority to declare whatever city it wants within its territory to be its capital," he added.
Hagle said while this decision could lead to conflict, U.S.'s strong relationship with Israel was leaning towards this decision for several years.
"Certainly will make some people unhappy, and we'll see how long that unhappiness lasts," said Hagle.
CBS 2/ FOX 28 reached out to local synagogues and the University of Iowa Hillel organization about the President's announcement, but no one was available to talk on Wednesday.
As the process to eventually move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem gets underway, protests have already started in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
An emergency meeting has been called by the U.N. Security Council on Friday.