As protests and violence intensified in the Middle East on Friday in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to flout international law and recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel earlier this week, more than 120 Jewish studies scholars from universities across the United States condemned the move and urged the Trump administration to take responsibility for the fallout.
“A declaration from the United States government that appears to endorse sole Jewish proprietorship over Jerusalem adds insult to ongoing injury and is practically guaranteed to fan the flames of violence,” wrote the scholars in their petition.
At least one Palestinian protester has been killed in the demonstrations that followed Wednesday’s announcement. The Israeli military launched air strikes on Gaza as Palestinians took part in a “day of rage,” called for by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. At least 25 people were injured in the air strikes, including six children.
The Jewish studies scholars called on the U.S. government “to take immediate steps to deescalate the tensions resulting from the President’s declaration and to clarify Palestinians’ legitimate stake in the future of Jerusalem.”
Trump’s decision reversed decades of U.S. policy supporting a move toward a two-state solution, and has been viewed as a firm stance in support of Israel—even as the State Department has attempted to assure observers that the U.S. hasn’t changed its policy on future negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders and an end to Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem.
The scholars argued that the president’s declaration will embolden Israeli leaders who have oppressed Palestinians for decades.
“Palestinian residents of Jerusalem endure systematic inequalities, including an inequitable distribution of the city’s budget and municipal services, routine denial of building permits that are granted to Jewish residents, home demolitions, and legal confiscation of property for Jewish settlement,” wrote the scholars.
The petition was circulated as the U.N. Security Council issued its own condemnation of Trump’s action.
At an emergency meeting of the panel, Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N.’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process noted that Trump made his announcements against the guidance of the international community.
“The United Nations has repeatedly declared that any unilateral decision that seeks to alter the character and status of Jerusalem or that may alter these long-standing principles could seriously undermine current peace efforts and may have repercussions across the region,” Mladenov said.