If news reports are to be believed then, in a few hours time, President Trump will announce that it is the position of the United States of America that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. To that I say bravo, Mr President, and it’s been a long time coming.
There are many arguments circulating that suggest an opposite conclusion is warranted. Here’s an think-tanker quoted by CNN:
David Makovsky, director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said an announcement will kill any chances of a peace deal.
Israel has sought peace for decades and has been attacked, terrorised, and ostracised no matter what they’ve offered for peace. American presidents, too, have sought out peace deals before and even if you could get Israeli and Palestinian leaders to meet, sign on the dotted line, and commit to peace, the reality is that it has always failed, too. Killing the chance of a peace deal? Peace deals haven’t proved successful in the past and if this decision continues this trend, what’s the difference?
Other warnings, arguments, and hot takes via Al Jazeera:
President Abbas warned of the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world…
President Abbas knows there will be consequences for peace, security, and stability because his reaction so far has included anti-Semitic propaganda posts on social media, and urging locals to engage in days of rage. Self fulfilling prophecy, I guess.
Over in Jordan the King:
…warned the US president of the risks of any decision that ran counter to a final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict based on the creation of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem.
The final settlement to the dispute is a long way off as long the bombings, knifings, shootings, murders, and terrorism continues. The US decision won’t change that a whole lot – indeed, Abbas seems to be promising more of it, pushing peace further away.
The Egyptian president chimed in, too:
The Egyptian president affirmed the Egyptian position on preserving the legal status of Jerusalem within the framework of international references and relevant UN resolutions…
Jerusalem was liberated by Israeli forces during the 1967 Six Day War, a war in which Egypt fought Israel and was soundly beaten (though, let’s face it, things were shaky there for a time). Now Egypt is demanding that the UN be the framework through which the status of the region is decided? Why wasn’t the UN and its recognition of Israel as a Member State nearly 60 years ago – and nearly 20 years before the 1967 war with Egypt – good enough for Egypt then?
Then there’s the position of the terrorists:
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that the decision by the Trump administration will “[ignite] the spark of rage against the occupation”
This is what is going to ignore the spark of rage for Hamas? Should we then assume that all of the following is simply prologue?
- From 2000 to 2004, Hamas was responsible for killing nearly 400 Israelis and wounding more than 2,000 in 425 attacks…
- From 2001 through May 2008, Hamas launched more than 3,000 Qassam rockets and 2,500 mortar attacks into Israel…
- According to one report, commenting on the 2014 conflict, “nearly all the 2,500–3,000 rockets and mortars Hamas has fired at Israel since the start of the war seem to have been aimed at towns”…
- In 2010, Hamas, who have been actively sidelined from the peace talks by Israel, spearheaded a coordinated effort by 13 Palestinian militant groups, in attempt to derail the stalled peace talks between Israel and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority…
- In the wake of the 2006 Israeli conflict with Gaza, Hamas was accused of systematically rounding up, torturing and summarily executing Fatah supporters suspected of supplying information to Israel…
There will be repercussions from the US announcement and there will likely be violence and, yes, rage.
Yet it is simply a statement of fact that the capital of the State of Israel is Jerusalem. It’s a beautiful city, a wonderful place to visit, and truly special – I wish I could return and I hope I get a chance to do so soon. To refuse to take a position on the capital of another state or to demur doing so until a peace process that has been running for decades and achieved so very little finally delivers is weakness defined.
Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and I’m glad President Trump and the United States have finally said so.
Update (7 December 2017): Bibi nails it.