Local experts break down President Trump's Jerusalem announcement

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- Protests are underway Wednesday in Israel after President Donald Trump’s announcement to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Eight countries in the United Nations want an immediate meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss Trump’s remarks.

The UN Secretary General said the president’s announcement must be resolved through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He also warns that such unilateral measures may undermine prospects for peace in the Middle East.

Throughout history, Jerusalem’s politics and religious diversity, have been closely intertwined. Roughly two-thirds of the population are Jewish, a third of the population are Muslim and a small percentage are Christian.

Those who reacted to the news locally say there could be some major implications for the small change in embassy location.

For more than two decades, the United States has viewed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. However, the congressional law passed back in 1995 by Congress also gave the acting president the option to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“From 1995 up until now, every president has continued to exercise that 6 month delay,” said Rabbi Moishe Steigmann. “President Trump is the first president who has verbally declared that he intends to move the embassy.”

“I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interest of the U.S. and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” said President Donald Trump.

St. Norbert College’s Middle East History Professor Robert Kramer said the decades-long tensions between Israelis and Palestinians comes down to the city of Jerusalem itself.

“Jerusalem is really two cities,” said Kramer. “Jerusalem is a contested territory.”

Kramer said Palestinians could see President Trump’s announcement as the United States siding with the Israelis, which could lead to more violence.

“What it’s likely to do is lead to greater Palestinian resistance to any kind of settlement and a tremendous amount of human suffering on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian,” said Kramer. “It could potentially lead to greater political violence and terrorism, which is the reason all Americans should be concerned about this,” said Kramer.

It could lead to more violence, but Rabbi Steigmann said it could also settle the back-and-forth debate.

“Perhaps moving the embassy there will serve as a final declaration that Jerusalem is indeed the recognized capital of Israel and that would remove a potential fight from the Middle Eastern docket,” said Rabbi Steigmann. “There is a history of violence in the region going back hundreds, thousands of years and if you take two people who have been at political and religious odds for potentially 2,000 years and were able to somehow advance the cause of peace, I think that gives hope to all conflicts throughout the world.

Although President Trump made the announcement on Wednesday, it’s still too early to tell when his announcement might come to fruition.

“The question remains. He (President Trump) has made this declaration, but we don't know in six months if he will act on it or put forth another six month stay,” said Rabbi Steigmann. “The reality is even if he decides to move forward, this could be a multi-year process before a site is found for the embassy in Jerusalem.”