Saudi Arabia has issued a formal condemnation of President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and announcement of plans to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to ‘the holy city’ claimed by both Palestinians and Israelis. The Saudi statement was posted to its D.C. embassy website and circulated via diplomatic channels and the kingdom’s social media accounts Wednesday evening.
The kingdom’s condemnation invokes “serious consequences of such an irresponsible and unwarranted step” while expressing its “denunciation and deep regret that the administration has taken this step” while calling on the White House to “reverse this action” which constitutes “a drastic regression in the efforts to move the peace process forward.”
Protests in Gaza from earlier this year. Image source: Reuters via NY Daily News
As expected Trump has already received an immense amount of international push back from world leaders, including major US allies. Among the countries and international bodies which immediately condemned the move are the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Russia, China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, as well as the European Union, Arab League, and others.
The Jerusalem recognition came during a televised address from the White House shortly after 1pm on Wednesday and set an already volatile Middle East situation on edge. Travel warnings for US citizens were sent out via US embassies throughout the Middle East and the American embassy in Amman, Jordan suspended all services as protests erupted outside the embassy gates.
That was quick. US embassy in #Jordan suspends all its services following the first demo in the Arab world in Amman against #Trump recognizing #Jerusalem as #Israel’s capital, breaking with decades of precedent, upending longtime U.S. policyhttps://t.co/Yc1l5Vvadf https://t.co/Wu4itjunYw
— SaadAbedine (@SaadAbedine) December 6, 2017
— Matt Lee (@APDiploWriter) December 7, 2017
And as we previously reported, Trump made another – and unexpected – announcement two hours after the controversial Jerusalem announcement: the president called on Saudi leadership to immediately completely lift the years long Saudi military blockade on war-torn Yemen while highlighting the humanitarian catastrophe currently unfolding, saying “This must be done for humanitarian reasons immediately.”
Many analysts saw the announcement as a tit-for-tat statement concerning the Jerusalem move: the Saudis were angry and were expected to issue the formal condemnation, but it appears Trump preempted their criticism by highlighting the humanitarian outrage of the Saudi imposed Yemen blockade (which ironically, as we noted, was enabled by the US as part of the Saudi coalition in Yemen).
Below is the official Saudi Embassy statement in full.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Court Issues a Statement Denouncing Jerusalem’s Status Announcement.https://t.co/Wqhu0x4Zyj
— Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) December 7, 2017
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia followed, with great disappointment, the announcement made by the President of the United States Donald Trump, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocating the United States’ embassy to Jerusalem.
The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had previously warned of the serious consequences of such an irresponsible and unwarranted step. The Kingdom expresses its denunciation and deep regret that the administration has taken this step, as it represents a great bias against the historic and permanent rights of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem, which have been affirmed by the relevant international resolutions and have been recognized and supported by the international community.
Although this step does not change or infringe upon the inalienable and preserved rights of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem, and other occupied territories, and even though it cannot impose a new reality upon those rights, it does however exemplify a drastic regression in the efforts to move the peace process forward, and is a shift away from the United States’ historically impartial position with regard to the issue of Jerusalem, which will further complicate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hopes that the U.S administration will reverse this action, and support the international will to enable the Palestinian people to regain their legitimate rights. Furthermore, the Kingdom reaffirms the importance of finding a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian cause in accordance with the relevant international resolutions, and the Arab Peace Initiative, so that the Palestinian people can regain their legitimate rights, which will strengthen security and stability in the region.”
It will be interesting to see if Trump takes to twitter to speak off the cuff like he’s done with other issues and world leaders who criticize his controversial decisions.