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Trump bombshell triggers flurry of travel alerts

December 8, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

DFAT has rushed to update travel advisories, while the Pope, the European Union and countries throughout the world have expressed shock or outrage.

The reason: a declaration by US President Donald Trump on Jerusalem, which is considered likely to inflame tensions in the Middle East and throughout the Muslim world.

UN secretary general António Guterres spoke of his “great anxiety” over Trump’s move. The EU expressed “serious concern” and Pope Francis said, “I cannot remain silent”.

This was in response to Trump’s declaration that the US would officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Israel welcomed the move, but it contravenes UN resolutions and is thought likely to aggravate one of the world’s most insoluble conflicts.

European allies of the US, like Britain, France, Germany and Italy have all declared Trump’s action a mistake. Some say it could put at risk travelling Americans and citizens of countries allied with the US.

Jerusalem

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) warned Australian travellers that “protests are likely in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza from 6-8 December. Avoid demonstrations and large gatherings, and monitor the media and other sources for information about possible unrest.”

DFAT issued similar alerts for Jordan and for Lebanon, warning of an increased possibility of protests that could turn violent. DFAT’s overall advice for Lebanon is “reconsider your need to travel”. Jordan’s ranking is one notch better on the DFAT scale of severity, “exercise a high degree of caution” – and the same for Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, for which DFAT adds a proviso: “higher levels apply in some areas”.

Rioting broke out in the West Bank and Gaza Strip last night, two rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip and concern mounted that the situation could worsen over the weekend.

Jerusalem is revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims. The UN and EU believe Jerusalem should be a future capital of two states, Israeli and Palestinian. They are against the US taking sides and proclaiming it as the capital of Israel, especially when no other country has done so.

During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.

MEANWHILE, Trump’s travel ban against a number of Muslim-majority countries is now in effect. The US Supreme Court has ruled that the stalled travel ban will be allowed to take force while the issue is sorted out in lower courts.

Trump’s September proclamation targeted citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen, making it much more difficult, or impossible, for them to enter the US. The ban was stalled by two district court judges in October and the final verdict on the issue is still unresolved.

Written by Peter Needham

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