President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the U.S. embassy to the city has been universally condemned, as it is contrary to a well-established rule of international law stipulating that states must not recognize the fruits of conquest. While the United States chose to exercise its right of veto in the UN Security Council to block a resolution criticizing the presidential decision, the remaining members of the council, including close U.S. allies, criticized it. Similarly, the UN General Assembly, the European Union, the Arab League, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation have all passed strongly worded resolutions saying that they would not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including in and around Jerusalem. This paper examines the legal standing of the U.S. decision in light of previous positions that the United States has historically adopted or endorsed.
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