A coalition of Islamic groups in Hong Kong have issued a joint letter condemning US President Donald Trump’s controversial move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

United Muslims in HK for Peace in Palestine represents a diverse range of Muslims residing in the city. It wrote to the US Consul General in Hong Kong on Thursday calling for peace talks and a reversal of Trump’s decision.

donald trump Reuven Rivlin
US President Donald Trump met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem this year. Photo: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, via Flickr.

“To recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” they said, “is a step backward for all parties in the region, as it sidelines the already fragile peace process and diminishes the role of the United States in future peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

Earlier this month, Trump announced that the US will begin preparations to move its embassy from the Israeli city of Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, considered a holy city by Jews, Muslims and Christians.

The United Muslims coalition said the president’s decision “unleashes a Pandora’s box of chaos and uncertainty” for people living in Israel and the occupied territories.

Among the 27 groups which signed the letter were the Muslim Filipino Association, the Pakistan Association of Hong Kong and the Ghana Muslims Association. Muslim student groups from City University and the University of Science and Technology also joined the campaign.

They held a community meeting last Sunday in response to the decision that will reverse decades of US policy.

United Muslims in HK for Peace in Palestine
Muslim groups met in December 2017 on the Israel-Palestine issue. Photo: United Muslims in HK for Peace in Palestine.

Trump’s decision was hailed by Israeli groups such as the Zionist Organization of America as “an important, historic, moral and just action.”

But it was condemned by Arab leaders and triggered a wave of protests across the Middle East. Violent protests also broke out in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Lives at risk

The Hong Kong coalition voiced concern over large-scale protests that broke out following the controversial announcement, which they feared may put the lives of Muslims and non-Muslims at risk.

“If the true goal of the Trump administration had been the advancement of peace, it would not have vetoed the various resolutions over the years in the Security Council that simply sought investigation of Israeli war crimes, or the removal of illegal settlements,” they said.

They called for peace talks as a solution to the long-running disputes over Palestine’s boundaries.

A spokesperson told HKFP that they are preparing a separate petition for the Hong Kong public. They also have plans to form an interfaith network to raise awareness on the plight of Palestinians.

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Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.