American President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is controversial, provocative and dangerous. It is likely to inflame the already volatile Palestinian territories as well as the larger Muslim world and destroy the already rocky West Asia peace process. One of the oldest cities in the world, Jerusalem contains sites that are sacred to Islam, Judaism and Christianity. The status of Jerusalem is one of the key issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; both Israel and Palestine lay claim to it and would like to make it their capital. Under the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan, Jerusalem was made a 'corpus separatum' to be administered by the United Nations and according to the 1993 Israel-Palestine peace accord, the final status of Jerusalem was to be determined in the latter stages of the peace talks.
Given Jerusalem's unclear status, UN member-states set up embassies in Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem. Thus, there was a general international consensus that Jerusalem's status would be determined through talks. That has been broken now with the US extending recognition to Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Trump has said that the US still supports a two-state solution but this is unconvincing. The US has never been an impartial mediator in the Israel-Palestine conflict as it has been a close ally of the Jewish state and its largest military supplier. Still, the Palestinians went along with accepting US mediation hitherto. That will now change as the US has come out openly and formally in support of Israel. It has endorsed Israel's claims on a core issue in the conflict. The US' role as peace broker in the Israel-Palestine conflict is in tatters. Trump's decision has drawn angry condemnation not just from the Palestinians and the Muslim world but also, some of the US' closest allies, including the United Kingdom and France. It is a major foreign policy shift
that could undermine US' relationships in West Asia.
India's stand on the issue of Jerusalem has raised eyebrows and New Delhi must make its stand clear. India had been for an independent state of Palestine living in peace side by side with Israel with East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital. While India continues to support the two-state demand, its stand on East Jerusalem as Palestine capital has been dropped. The last that India supported East Jerusalem as capital was in its address to the UN General Assembly in December, 2016. India has been tilting towards Israel as against Palestine ever since BJP's Narendra Modi took over as prime minister in 2014. While it had been the practice for Indian leaders to visit both Palestine and Israel during their trip to the region, Modi visited only Israel and not Palestine in July, this year.