Contributed from Victoria
US President Donald Trump has recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and in doing so, defied overwhelming world opinion. This holds that the city’s future should be part of an agreement, coming at the end of a out of a peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.
Contrary to the alternative claim, the Trump position runs counter to resolving one of the worlds bitterest and most long running conflicts. Instead of encourging dialogue, the tilt is towards increasing the level of conflict. Trump’s message is the the United States of America is now openly playing the role as the backer of stepped aggression by one party and is therefore squarely against the other side.
With this, the White House’s self-proclaimed role as peacemaker is no longer tenable.
Moving the embassy has isolated the United States from the global community to the extent that not one nation has backed it. A growing number are coming out and either condemning or criticising it.
There is one exception, and not surprisingly, this is Israel. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was on television almost immediately after Trump’s announcement, saying thank you. He has very a good personal reason to do so. His good friend’s efforts and timing have created a welcome opportunity to create a distraction from serious corruption allegations. Netanahu has been preoccupied with finding ways to delay and put an end to pending legal proceedings.
Jerusalem has long been supposed to be under international jurisdiction, because of the conflict and because it is the epicentre of the Christian and Muslim faiths, as well as Judaism. Israeli governments have never respected this significance and argued that it must be the capital of the Jewish state.
Much of Jerusalem was annexed in 1948, in defiance of the international agreement. During the 1967 Middle East War, East Jerusalem was occupied and taken from Jordan and is currently a major flash point over Jewish illegal settlements and the dispossession of Palestinians.
Many leaders around the world, including close allies, had been cautioning Trump against going down this road. He has not listened.
The White House’s closest allies in the Middle East, face a new wave of discontent from their populations and have therefore been presented with a new dilemma. They can support the move and be seen as the play things of the Israelis. Or they can distance themselves, risk losing the patronage of the superpower and become more vulnerable to domestic and regional rivals. Two countries that fit into this scenario are Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Saudi and Egypt have, joined Turkey, Jordan, Iran and Lebanon in condemning the embassy shift. More are expected to respond similarly.
Russia and China have made their dissatisfaction clear. Germany’s leader Angela Merkel had already warned against it. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, said: “This decision is a regrettable decision that France does not approve of and goes against international law and all the resolutions of the UN security council.”
The Pope has taken a stand against the move.
The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, said that there was no alternative to a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians and that Jerusalem was a “final-status issue” that should be resolved through direct talks.
“I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardise the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.
The Trump administration is once again showing itself as a danger to global peace and stability. Not content with provoking North Korea and risking lighting the spark of war in Asia, there has now been a new turn towards fanning the flames in the Middle East.
Announcing the embassy move may in the short-run secure Trump’s domestic political base among fundamentalist Christian groups that believe Israel’s expansion must be supported as preparation for the for the coming apocalypse. It will do so at the cost of losing American standing in the global community.
Palestinian organisations have called for “three days of rage,” not just in the Middle East but worldwide. They have issued a statement, which calls on “all our people in Israel and around the world to gather in city centres and Israeli embassies and consulates, with the aim of bringing about general popular anger”.
Video from the Toronto Star