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Israelis And Palestinians Respond To Trump's Jerusalem Recognition

Dec 6, 2017
Originally published on December 6, 2017 6:10 am
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President Trump is not the first chief executive to say that he's going to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He is just the first president to do it. The president plans that move today, according to U.S. officials. No other country has placed an embassy in Jerusalem. Part of it is territory that Israel occupied in 1967 in a war, and the city's status was supposed to be settled in a larger peace deal. NPR's Daniel Estrin is in Jerusalem. Hi there, Daniel.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Hey.

INSKEEP: Where are you, exactly?

ESTRIN: Well, I'm in a big Israeli food market on the west side of the city. Earlier, I was in the east side of the city, where Palestinians in the city live.

INSKEEP: OK. Well, let's talk about each place and what you've heard. What are you hearing there in the Israeli food market?

ESTRIN: I've been talking to Israelis here, and they've been wondering, you know, why this didn't happen earlier. One vegetable seller said the U.S. is recognizing our truth, going back to biblical times. But all the Israelis we spoke to here said this is good, this should've been done a long time ago. Though some of them told us they were worried about the timing now. Now tensions are so high on this that it could provoke violence. And then on the east side...

INSKEEP: I guess we should note for people just that the Israeli government is physically there. They physically moved the government there even if embassies have not followed. And you were about to say you went to the east side of Jerusalem. There's this dividing line between territory that had belonged to Israel before 1967 and territory that they conquered. What do you hear on the eastern side in what had been the Palestinian area?

ESTRIN: Right. It's sort of an invisible dividing line today, but on the eastern side of the city, Palestinians, you know, reactions' been mixed. One man said Trump's position is kind of fuzzy. It seems like he didn't say the Palestinians - or that the U.S. officials haven't said Palestinians will never get East Jerusalem, which is what Palestinians want, as the capital of a future state. Another man told us he's happy, this will wake Palestinians up that Israel is taking over Jerusalem. Another woman told us she was worried her son would join in protests if there's violence.

INSKEEP: OK. You mentioned violence. This announcement immediately triggered fears of violence. But you are describing people to me who sound kind of calm.

ESTRIN: Well, today it's raining in the city so we haven't seen any public protests yet, although Palestinians have called for a big protest in a West Bank city tomorrow and other cities. In the past, violence has followed whenever there have been big, symbolic moves regarding Jerusalem. So police are on high alert for potential violence here in the city. The mayor's spokeswoman says there is a, quote, "higher terror alert in Jerusalem today," but she says the mayor is not deterred, and she says the city is planning on throwing a party.

INSKEEP: Throwing a party. What kind of celebration does one make for a recognition by the president?

ESTRIN: Yeah. Well, I mean, for Israelis, you know, this is President Trump backing Israel's claim to the city. So, you know, I'll have to let you know what kind of party there is. We don't know yet.

INSKEEP: OK. Well, we'll wait for your reporting. Daniel, always a pleasure talking to you.

ESTRIN: Thank you so much.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem, which President Trump is expected to declare today that he recognizes as the capital of Israel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.