Southwest Floridians React To Trump's Jerusalem Decision

Dec 14, 2017

Last week, in an unprecedented and historic move, President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and said he wants to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

This upends a long-held global agreement of not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. 

On Friday, the holiest day of the week for Muslims, Kamal Fatayer, was praying at the Islamic Society of Southwest Florida’s mosque. Fatayer is originally from Palestine and he believes recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a snub towards Palestinians.

“It’s ridiculous. I can’t believe [Trump] made that decision, really," said Fatayer. "It’s a calamity. It seems like it’s not going to be Palestine anymore.”

Fatayer said now, it feels like Palestine will remain stateless forever.

“And God knows what’s going to happen next. We keep praying," he said. "[Palestine and Israel] have been held in meetings and summits for the past 67 years. Nothing has changed. ”

Sylvia Simko is Jewish and lives in Fort Myers. She said the move by Trump was long overdue.

“Actually, this is not new," said Simko. "Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for over 2,000 years.”

Simko said she believes in a two-state solution and she believes Trump’s move is a step towards that.

“Strangely enough, I think this will help with the peace process, because it was the first time that the Palestinians and all the Arab countries around will have to face reality that Israel is there and Israel exists,” she said. 

Trump cited the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act--which would have the U.S. put the American embassy in Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital-- as the basis of his decision. However, Florida Gulf Coast University Professor Hootan Shambayati said that legislation was a non-binding resolution.

“Most administration had resisted doing that because not does it violate international law but it also would make a settlement opt out of Israeli conflict and negotiations with the Palestinians more difficult because the Palestinians also claim Jerusalem as part of their capital," said Shambayati.  "And under international law, the eastern part of Jerusalem is still considered as occupied territory."

Shambayati said Trump’s decision isn't inline with the rest of the international community. But still, he said, this move by the US will likely make it harder for Palestinians to negotiate for a two-state solution.