On 06 December 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump announced the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He also announced plans to relocate the US Embassy there, a move expected to inflame tensions in the region and unsettle the prospects for peace. The State Department has been ordered to begin preparations to move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but it is reported the embassy will remain in Tel Aviv for the time being as it is estimated it will take years before a new embassy can open in Jerusalem. (CNN)
The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem issued a notice on 05 December advising U.S. government employees and their families that they are not permitted to travel in Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank until further notice; American citizens are encouraged to follow these restrictions as well. Protests are likely to take place outside U.S. diplomatic installations or institutions, including the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem
The announcement is likely to generate demonstrations worldwide, primarily located in the Middle East and North Africa, including Israel, Jordan, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt and Iran. In the coming days, individuals should anticipate and avoid demonstrations/protests against the announcement. Demonstrations may take place near U.S. embassies or consulates, in public squares, in known flashpoint areas, and/or near places of worship – to include outside of mosques on 08 December following Friday prayers. Any such demonstrations have the potential to devolve into violence and should be avoided due to the credible risk of unrest.
[Israel] There are widespread calls for demonstrations in Jerusalem, especially in and around Old City, beginning 6 December. A protest is scheduled for 7 December at 12.00 (local time) at Manara Square in Ramallah (West Bank). Additionally, ‘days of rage' protests are planned in the West Bank from 6-8 December. Protesters are likely to burn tires, block roads and throw projectiles such as Molotov cocktails or stones at Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) personnel, who are liable to respond with tear gas, rubber bullet or live ammunition. Key areas in the West Bank include Qalandiya checkpoint outside Ramallah, H2 area and Shuhada Street in Hebron and along Route 60, the main road connecting Jerusalem with Nablus and Hebron.
[Middle East and North Africa] A demonstration is planned for 6 December at 20.30 (local time) outside the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul (Istanbul province, Turkey). Protests have also been called in Jordan, where issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have previously sparked unrest. Officials from several countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, have condemned this decision, warning that such a move could not only spark unrest across the region, but also impede efforts to reach a settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
- Defer all non-essential travel in Jerusalem’s Old City and in the West Bank, to include Bethlehem and Jericho, until at least 9 December.
- Leave an area at the first sign that protesters and/or security force personnel are gathering and move to a secure location, such as your university, local office, or accommodation/residence, until the situation has stabilized. Do not go to embassies or consulates during periods of unrest, as those areas are typically at greater risk.
- Reconfirm the status of routes and checkpoints before setting out. Make contingency plans for potential spontaneous closures and delays, including at key access routes or main checkpoints.
- Anticipate a heightened security presence and follow all directives issued by the authorities.
- Register with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), or country-equivalent if not a U.S. citizen, and enroll in email alerts from International SOS.
- Keep phones charged and with you, and be prepared to respond to an emergency communication from the institution. Keep family, friends, and loved ones updated with how you are doing.
- Call International SOS for security advice, medical referrals, or other emergency assistance anytime 24/7 at +1-215-942-8059 (collect calls accepted).
As always, if you are abroad and in need of immediate assistance (medical or security related) please call International SOS at +1-215-942-8478 or UTPD at +1-512-471-4441