Israel government official based in Texas reacts to Jerusalem announcement

Fallout today in the middle east -- after President Donald Trump declared the US will now recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel.

This week, President Donald Trump declared the U.S. will now recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the embassy there from Tel Aviv. 

But, Houston-based Gilad Katz, the General Consul from Israel of the Southwest, said this is something they've been waiting for since the formation of Israel 70 years ago.

"It's a dream that came true,” Katz said. “As an Israeli, as a diplomat, as the representative of Israel, it was one of the highlights of, I would even say the past decades, in Israel.”

Katz called the United States a super power, and said they now hope other countries will follow in their steps. 

"Since the United States is a very, very important state in the world, I think that more and more countries will go will follow their steps,” said Katz. "Slowly but steadily we'll see that the capital of Israel, the Unified capitol -- Jerusalem -- will be recognized hopefully by the whole world."

According to Katz, he believes this is a good thing for Israel, the Western world and for the peace process. 

“Every Jew, every place, used to pray three times a day to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the heart of the nation of Israel. It is the capitol, the only capitol of the Jewish people, so now that the administration and President Trump recognize that it’s just a dream that came true,” said Katz. “As a sovereign nation, we can choose our capitol, we chose 3,500 years ago, Jerusalem as our capitol, and I don’t see any reason that today, when Israel is a sovereign state, that Jerusalem won’t become the capitol of the state of Israel, but not only towards us and the Israelis, but also towards the rest of the world.” 

But, University of Texas Professor and Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs Jeremi Suri, doesn't necessarily agree.

“Making firm statements that you're siding with one side and not another, often is like lighting a match around gasoline, and that's what we might have done here,” said Suri. 

Thursday, protests continued in the Middle East, as many Palestinians are upset about the announcement, saying Jerusalem should be the future capital of a Palestinian state. 

"It made me very sad and very angry and let me really feel the depths of injustice which has been inflicted to the Palestinian rights in Jerusalem,” said Ahmad Hurb, a Ramallah resident.

In Austin, a group called the Palestine Solidarity Committee plans to hold a protest on the UT campus Friday. 

Suri said the move isn't something all Israelis support. 

“I think Israeli opinion is deeply divided on this. Many members of the Israeli labor party, many mainstream Israelis, many young Israelis are opposed to this kind of declaration,” said Suri. "They believe Jerusalem should be at least in part a Jewish city, and they revere and respect Jerusalem as so many of us do, but they believe this is a stick in the eye of the Palestinians and other Arab and Muslim peoples they are trying to build peace with.”

Several countries in the United Nations have said they don't agree with President Trump's move. 

“It now creates a second problem for the United States that many of our allies disagree with us,” said Suri. 

They plan to hold an emergency meeting Friday to figure out where to go from here. 

“The idea was that Jerusalem should be shared by the three religions that treat it as their home -- Judaism, Islam and Christianity, any one country, and one religion seizing control and sole ownership of that territory, denies the other two,” said Suri. “It means it’s very difficult for us now to make the argument that we’re a fair broker in the region.”

As for Texans, Suri believes the move could disrupt peace in the business world. 

“So many Texans through the oil and gas industry, through technology, work in the Middle East, and Israel is a very important ally for the United States,” said Suri. “Many Texans and other Americans doing work in the region can go from Israel to other countries, and work with Egyptians as well as Israelis, or work with Saudis as well as Israelis. I think this is going to make it harder, create more walls, divisions. Some of that was already there. It’s going to make it a lot worse -- I think it’s going to be harder to do business in the region now because of this.”

But Katz encourages everyone to visit. 

“If you just come see the Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, you will see that we are talking about a very modern city, a very calm city, a very important city, a religious city, but a city that can and will be part of the peace process, as the unified capitol as the state of Israel.”

He also said the Israeli government looks forward to negotiations with Palestinians. 

“If it is up to us, I can only talk in the name of Israel, nothing has changed, the peace process can still carry on,” said Katz. "If it is up to us, we are waiting around the table for them to come and decide that they really do want genuine peace, and when I say genuine, I mean without violence, without threatening for violence.”

According to Katz, the Israeli government is looking forward to negotiations with Palestinians.

"But they have to understand, violence is not part of the game, we will not tolerate violence. If there will be violence, we will have to act accordingly, we'll have to guard all of our citizens, that is our most important task a country has to do for its citizens,” said Katz. “We, from the prime minister through the president, through the defense minister, everyone, in Israel, really does want the peace process to be a genuine peace process."

Thursday evening, the Palestine Solidarity Committee sent KVUE a statement, they co-signed with the Palestinian Youth Movement. In part, it reads: 

Whether in exile or the homeland, we Palestinians have remained resilient in the face of decades of dehumanization and dispossession…we recognize that this latest development will prove no exception: we honor and uplift Palestinian resilience and resistance through various means, and recognize that it must and will continue until all of Palestine is liberated and our people have realized the full right of return. 

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