Jerusalemites glad about U.S. embassy move but worry it may ‘fuel the fire’ of conflict

"Don’t add fuel to the fire," one Israeli warned about the opening of the embassy in Jerusalem and the repercussions it may have.

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May 15, 2018 05:50
3 minute read.

The U.S. officially opens its embassy in Jerusalem as dozens killed in Gaza protests, May 14, 2018 (Reuters)

The U.S. officially opens its embassy in Jerusalem as dozens killed in Gaza protests, May 14, 2018 (Reuters)

 
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Jerusalem residents are split over the US Embassy’s move to the capital.

Prior to the embassy’s opening on Monday, some residents said that they were in favor of the move, while others said that “it would only add fuel to the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.”

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Janus, an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor who was born in Hungary and hidden during the war, said he is grateful America is finally doing something in open support of the Jewish state. “I came in 1950 as a refugee… I lost many of my family in the Holocaust, and America – [which] could have taken us in and saved us – didn’t,” he told The Jerusalem Post on a bus. “US presidents in the past have made many promises to the Jews and Israel, but they have not truly delivered; it is good to see that President Donald [Trump] has kept his promise and broken the tradition of the other presidents.

“President Donald is a good man. He may be a little bit crazy, but he is doing something special for us and we appreciate it,” he added.

While riding the inner-city light rail, a 20-year-old yeshiva student, who only identified himself as Aryeh, said that he thinks the move is amazing. “It’s a real step in the right direction.”

However, his friend Chaim disagreed. Although it’s a nice idea, he asked: “What are the benefits [of having it here]?”

American tourists Lolly Cohen and Steve Karney said they were excited to be in Jerusalem on the day the US Embassy was opening.

“It’s really a historic day for the Jews of Israel and around the world,” said Karney. “I’m not particularly a Trump fan, but he’s doing something positive. It’s about time someone stood up and actually did the right thing for Israel – whether the Palestinians like it or not.”

However, several locals were concerned about the repercussions of the move.

“In theory, it’s a good move, but with the political climate here so tense it could lead to a real breakdown in any hope for peace,” said 31-year-old Tomer. “The Palestinians are already reluctant to take part in any peace talks. Don’t add fuel to the fire – it’s dangerous.”

Alex, who is a lawyer, was also reluctant to cheer the embassy move. “It can go either way. The concern is that parts of east Jerusalem, the West Bank and, as we are already seeing, Gaza, will become violent for weeks on end. It might lead to war, which is the last thing we need. If it does lead to war then we have to hope America will continue to stand with us through it and not take a step back.”

Several east Jerusalem Arabs told the Post that they were deeply “insulted” and “angered” by the move, and the fact that Trump had declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“It’s wrong. We are commemorating the Nakba [Day of Catastrophe] – where thousands of Palestinians were chased from their homes – and the Americans have the defiance to open their embassy in our capital today,” said Silwan resident Najeeba. “It’s wrong. Have some respect!”

Asmal, an 18-year-old student, said that he would join the protests in Kalandiya (which took place Monday afternoon) in a bid to show his support for the Palestinian people and the “atrocities they’ve suffered.”

“We cannot stand here idle while Trump and the Americans destroy any hope for a Palestinian state, or any hope for peace. I may be an east Jerusalem resident and I may have the blue book [ID], but I still suffer and I still don’t have the same access to places that you as an Israeli citizen do.”

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