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Christians pray for peace on earth as US shifts embassy to Jerusalem

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With yet another firebombing, this time of a synagogue, in Gothenburg Sweden and then the stabbing of a security guard in Jerusalem's Central Bus Station following President Trump's announcement there are questions mulling about as to whether the American's Embassy move is step on the road to peace or whether it is making things worse. It is a question worth considering.

Many people are wondering why President Trump has decided at this juncture to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem, but President Trump's rationale on the move seems quintessentially American in that his logic is reminiscent of American innovator Henry Ford, who said, "If you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you've always got."

It is noteworthy that this is not an arbitrary move, but a matter of longstanding American policy to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital city and that this has never been fully implemented due to concerns over its possible impact on the peace process between Israel and Palestine. Despite past presidents making campaign promises, they have all employed their presidential waiver to prevent the embassy shift.

In 1995 the Jerusalem Embassy Act was passed by a resounding bipartisan majority of the US Congress and six months ago the Senate voted unanimously to re-affirm this stand.

Presidents from the earliest inception of the United States have expressed a desire for a Jewish homeland and well wishes when Israel became a state. John Adams the first Vice-President and the second President of the US said, "For I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation."

Harry Truman boldly recognized the State of Israel 14 May 1948, despite objections from the State Department.

For more direct quotes from US Presidents about Israel (click here)

With regards to Jerusalem being both the functional capital of Israel and their sentiments about the role of Jerusalem in the Jewish State, US presidents for the past 25 years from both the Democratic and Republican parties who are polarized on so many other issues, for all intents and purposes have agreed about this.

As far back as 1992 Bill Clinton said, "Jerusalem is still the capital of Israel and must remain an undivided city accessible to all."

In 2000 George W. Bush promised, "As soon as I take office I will begin the process of moving the United States Ambassador to the city that Israel has chosen as its capital."

In 2008 Barak Obama declared, "I continue to say that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel. I have said that before and I will say it again."

Later that year he did indeed say it again when he stated, " Jerusalem must remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided."

In 2016 Donald J. Trump also promised, "We will move the American Embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem."

Last week President Trump reminded the world of his and past president's campaign promises and said that he was "delivering" on implementing what he said was, "... in the best interests of the people of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians." Certainly this is American legislation and political policy, so it is unclear how long the full implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 could have been sidestepped, but in doing so there is a notable silence on what should be done to the Holy City in the following years. (click here)

NIkki Haley, US Representative to the UN, reiterated both what the President communicated in this announcement and the resolution of the Senate earlier this year: that what happens to Jerusalem "is between the two parties". She said that their position on access to the holy sites is to "maintain the status quo" asserting that this "doing something different" is "a way to move the peace process forward"

Representative Haley underscored that "The peace process is advanced when all parties are honest with each other". To see her speech to the UN (click here)

Mark Regev, Israel's Ambassador to the United Kingdom explained the historical and political reality of Jerusalem's central role for Jewish people detailing it in an article posted in The Telegraph (click here). He duly note that Jerusalem has not only been the functional capital of the modern state of Israel since 1949, but that the official position of the Palestinian Authority is that they want statehood along pre-1967 lines and that accordingly, Jerusalem would still be the capital of Israel.  Ambassador Regev asserts that Jerusalem has maintained a sacred significance since ancient times and that Jerusalem as "a beacon of tolerance and freedom" is intertwined with this central role and cannot be separated from the peace process. He states:

"Jerusalem today is a diverse, pluralistic and modern capital with ancient roots. Anyone who is aware of Jewish history and heritage knows the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jewish people, as has been the case for the past three millennia.
  
The words of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, in 1949 still ring true today: “The attempt to sever Jewish Jerusalem from the State of Israel will not advance the cause of peace in the Middle East or in Jerusalem itself.” Indeed, there can be no peace without Jerusalem as Israel’s capital."

The testimony of Scripture also reflects this longing for earthly peace as undivided from the Holy City in the admonition written by David prior to his ascent to the throne (click here) :  

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Psalm 122:6

At Christmas Christians reflect on ideals such as, Peace on Earth knowing that very often that peace held close to and reflected in the heart of a believer is often in the face of less than ideal circumstances and ultimately that peace is only found in this life through Jesus Christ.    

The longstanding and current position of the United States of America on the political function of Jerusalem is certainly clarified and sealed, and the World's politicians will continue to converse but as a charity working to aid and give relief to persecuted Christians we are cognisant of what this news means practically for them and are focused on understanding the realities they face. What might this move mean for Christians living in hot spots around the globe?

Because we have a longstanding concern for the safety of Christians both in Pakistan and in areas such as the Palestinian Authority where Christians also suffer hardship, we are simply wondering does our BPCA readership feel that moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem will make things better? Will it make things worse? or Will it simply maintain the status quo?   

Please place your answers into our survey (click here).

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:

"It seems bizzare that several preceding US presidents have promised to move their Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem but have all failed to do so.  Yet when one president finally decides to implement the mandate that has been delayed by decades he is seen by many as a blockage to the Middle-east peace process?

"Many of us sit and wonder what peace process has been affected? The Middle-East is probably more intolerant then ever.  Even then BPCA has no position on the current move by the US Government which is why we seek the views of our members. 

"What is a reality, is that by making this move President Trump has made the world recognise the middle-east issue more intuitively, perhaps that is a good thing.  We shall have to wait and see.  For certain more people have a view on the subject then ever before."

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