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The Status of Jerusalem

By Yara Naser Aldin, Advocacy Group Participant 2018

On December 6, the President of the United States, Donald Trump broke the seven decades of US policy on Jerusalem and officially announced the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Moreover, directed the state department to start the transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This Decision is not the first. According to history; the United States implemented several acts that arguably violate the basic right of Palestinians to self-determination as well as international conventions.

The City of Jerusalem by Tarek Bakri

In 1948 the United States officially recognised Israel as a State, although the occupied Jerusalem wasn’t part of this Decision. In 1995 the US Congress published the so called “Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995” which calls for the transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem before May, 1999. However, the act included a provision allowing the US President to sign “a six-month waiver if they deem it necessary” to protect the national security interests of the United States.

Every administration, Since the Bill Clinton presidency, has continued to sign the waiver every half year, despite promising during their presidential campaigns to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Regardless, Trump ordered the state department to start the preparations of the transfer of the Embassy, he also signed the waiver for another 6 months. This was supposed to give the engineers and architects enough time to prepare the new Embassy.

According to the International community, the Hague Convention of 1907 and the Geneva Convention of 1949 all the actions taken by Israel in Jerusalem are void and have no legal effect. According to the United Nations resolutions, the Israeli occupation could not arrange any rights or native sovereignty implications of the Palestinian people, because the occupation is not entitled to transfer sovereignty over Jerusalem to the occupying power, for temporary and limited-term.

The legal status of Jerusalem rests upon the General Assembly’s resolution 181 of 1947[1] which Israel relies on in order to proclaim the legality of its State. Shortly after, and as a result of the 1948’s war, the division of Jerusalem into “West” and “East” was set. Israel occupied the western part of Jerusalem while Jordan, expanded its jurisdiction to east Jerusalem. In the same year, the UN General Assembly issued another resolution reaffirming the international status of Jerusalem. However, in 1950 Israel ‎‎‎‎declared‎‎‎‎ Jerusalem (West and East) its capital and moved on to establish its government agencies in the western part, in violation of intern‎‎ational laws.[2]

Two Countries in Conflict by Joao Lucas Hilgert

Israel enacted the “Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel” in 1980, while the UN Security Council adopted and issued the 476 and 478 resolutions, which declared that the law is “null and void”. It called Israel, the occupying power, to tolerate the binding resolutions and international law. The Security Council ordered the (states that their diplomatic missions in Jerusalem should be withdrawn?). The status of the occupied Jerusalem has been the concern of several UN bodies and International Organisations. Security Council Resolutions 242, 250, 251, 252, 267, 271, 446, 1435,  2334 all called upon Israel to stop its occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Further, the General Assembly has adopted hundreds of Resolutions confirming the importance of the fourth Geneva Convention, refusing any Israeli sovereignty over the occupied territories and supporting the fact that Israel’s rule on East Jerusalem is nothing but a military occupation.

The Border seperating Israel and Palestina

Trump’s speech and decision about Jerusalem in accordance to the US law, is based on the Jerusalem Embassy Act 1995, which declares that Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel. And thereby, he recognized the “undivided and united” Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Embassy act and the recognition violate International laws. The US Supreme Court stated that “the status of Jerusalem should be decided not unilaterally but in consultation with all concerned, or otherwise a unilateral declaration is damaging to the cause of peace and, therefore not, in the interest of the United States”.

The international Court of Justice in an Advisory Opinion in 2004 made the status and the position of Jerusalem clear by stating and reaffirming the illegality of Israel’s apartheid separation wall and settlements; as Israel was bound by the fourth Geneva Convention. Moreover, the Court and Human Rights treaty bodies such as the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women; made it clear that Israel has the obligation to apply Human Rights Law in the occupied territories.

Palestinian Protesters by Tarek Bakri

Donald Trump’s recognition violates the rights of the Palestinians to security, housing, freedom of movement, to water and sanitation. Therefore, the rights of the Palestinians are threatened by the discriminatory and unlawful acts taken by Israel. As a consequence President Trump is helping Israel to secure these violations as his decision is nothing but a provocation to the integrity of international law institutions.


Please note that the views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Munich European Forum e.V.


[1] UN Resolution 181,”, 1948.

[2] Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, “Trump’s Decision to Announce Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel: Motives, Implications, and Prospects”, December 2017.

Diplomatic Solutions to the North Korean Nuclear Crisis?

By BEF 2017 NATO-Participant Brandon Roth

New South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, is at the center of a major North Korean diplomatic policy shift. Talks on the peninsula have the potential to change the political fault lines of the world’s largest nuclear powers. North Korean dictator, Kim Jon-un, contacted his long time Southern rival and the United States to discuss the North’s growing nuclear arsenal and sanctions. Recently, the UN imposed tough isolating measures that have further isolated the rogue North. World leaders are welcoming the change, however a diplomatic miss-step in world’s most volatile region could threaten international stability for years to come.

Questions remains, namely did Kim Jong-un chose a diplomatic solution due to strict UN sanctions as President Trump claims? Or is the dictator emboldened by his declaration of a nuclear weapons program capable of targeting both Europe and the US with nuclear ballistic missiles.

With the prospect of talks on the horizon, North Korea remains defiant as they recently activated a nuclear reactor with the potential to produce weapons grade Plutonium.

The Trump administration did not hesitate to accept the dictator’s unsolicited invitation. Claiming political victory, President Trump championed his policy of economic warfare against the world’s last Stalinist regime. “The president has made it clear, companies that help fund North Korea‘s nuclear ambition will not do business with the United States” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a February statement.

Many have voiced concerns current sanctions on the rogue nation may cause famine and starvation for the 25 million citizens isolated in the secretive North. After famine killed an estimated 2.4 million North Korean citizens in the 90’s, the US, South Korea, Japan and China began providing 75% of North Koreas food and energy trade. Recent estimates suggest 70% of the population continues to be undernourished.

After recent sanctions, China now provides 90% of North Koreas food and Energy trade, according to the UN Security Council.

Source: Stephan Haggard, professor of Korea-Pacific Studies at the University of California-San Diego. UNSCR refers to United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

Before the diplomatic shift by the North’s Supreme Leader Kim, President Trump claimed a victory by convincing China to back UN Resolution 1718 and 2375. This was an unprecedented move by China against its US$ 8 billion trading partner, North Korea.

The historic support of sanctions by China highlights recent strains in the China-North Korean relationship. However, China’s conflicted policy may have reached a turning point as the rebel leader tested nuclear weapons close to the Chinese boarder, sparking tensions and causing riots in the country.

Threat of conflict on the Korean Peninsula and uncertainty of the American role in the region has caused East Asian countries to quietly build-up their own capabilities. Many South Korean citizens support a homegrown nuclear weapons program and want the capability to provide their own security. Japan is working towards a larger alliance with India, Australia and is challenging the limits on its military capabilities imposed by Article 9 of its constitution.

The goal of talks with North Korea has always been the complete dismantling of its Nuclear Program. The U.S. has made it clear in the past, disarmament is required for future talks. However, in a 2017 meeting with Steve Bannon, he hinted the US “might consider a deal in which China got North Korea to freeze its nuclear buildup with verifiable inspections and the United States removed its troops from the peninsula”.

Accepting a nuclearized rogue state to the short list of nuclear powers is not an option. Even if North Korea didn’t launch a devastating nuclear strike, it has already proliferated its nuclear program beyond its borders. According to the CIA, the North Korean Regime secretly worked with Syria and Iran to exchange nuclear technology. Israel reacted to the building of a nuclear weapons plant in Syria by destroying its reactor in 2007. If Kim decided to work with terrorists, the results would be catastrophic.


Please note that the views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Munich European Forum e.V.



Council on Foreign Relations. 2018. “The China–North Korea Relationship”.