Struggle for Jerusalem: What recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital means

EMBED </>More Videos

abc7ny presents: The Struggle for Jerusalem by NJ Burkett and Josh Hartmann (WABC)

"What difference does it make, to throw stones?"

I was standing at the end of a street in the holy city of Bethlehem with a ten-year-old Palestinian boy named Abrahim. I wanted to hear the next generation explain the anger they feel in their hearts over the American declaration, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and why hurling stones at Israeli soldiers was their means of expressing it.

But instead of explaining why they do it, he understood my question to mean "why stones?" "We don't have guns," he said. "We only have stones. It's all that we have." As if their rage needed no explanation, just better ammunition.

It didn't take me more than a few days to understand what's going on. The previous Palestinian generation came of age in the years of Oslo and, later, Camp David. Although there was no peace in those years, there was a peace process. But this generation has seen neither peace nor a peace process. They have watched the Israelis build border walls and new settlements while their own leaders descended into disillusionment and disarray.

For generations of Jews, the ancient city of Jerusalem is their eternal capital. The western half of the city was claimed by the Israelis after they were attacked by Arab armies in 1948. The Israeli army later seized the entire city, and the West Bank, in the 1967 War.

But the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem has been rejected-in some cases, condemned-by virtually every nation in the world. Until the United States became the first to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Israeli state.

WABC-TV photographer Josh Hartmann and I wanted to see the situation for ourselves. Despite the rising tensions, we found that life in the West Bank goes on, but with a new sense of despair. Palestinians we spoke with in Ramallah feel abandoned by the United States; that the Americans are finally siding with the Israelis.
Click here for a series of photos from NJ Burkett's journey:

The Israelis already regard Jerusalem as their capital city. Most Israelis we spoke with said President Trump is simply stating the obvious, although they acknowledge that the significance of the US declaration is monumental. Many believe that, ultimately, Jerusalem should be divided with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. Several Israelis told us they understand the frustration of the Palestinian people, but insisted the street demonstrations are counterproductive.

An Israeli commentator observed, "Donald Trump did not kill the peace process, he simply declared it dead." Whether it was dead before Trump or after Trump, it certainly seems dead to me now.

And where does it leave young boys like Abrahim? Wishing they had guns.

* More local news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

Related Topics:
politicsoriginalsisraeljerusalempalestinepalestiniansPresident Donald Trump
(Copyright ©2018 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)