Russia accepts West Jerusalem as capital of Israel, East Jerusalem as capital of Palestine – what’s going on?
Moon of Alabama
Russia just published a quite sensational statement on Israel and Palestine. It recognizes, as before, East-Jerusalem as the capitol of the State of Palestine. But Russia now also recognizes, under certain conditions, West-Jerusalem as the capitol of the State of Israel.
This statement will make quite a wave and it has to be seen in the wider context of the war on Syria. Here is the original statement in Russian on the Foreign Ministry site and the auto-translation (excerpt):
Moscow continues to consider the formula for negotiating a two-state settlement of an optimal and friendly to us Palestinian and Israeli people, as well as to the interests of all countries in the region and the world community as a whole.
We reaffirm our commitment to the UN resolutions on the principles of settlement, including the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. At the same time, we consider it necessary to say that in this context we regard West Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.
Specific parameters for addressing the full range of issues of the final status of the Palestinian territories, including the Jerusalem problem, should be agreed upon in direct negotiations between the parties.
The part marked by me in bold is new. Older statements of Russia never included such a recognition. It is bound to conditions (“in this context”) so there is no free lunch for the Zionists. But it is still a huge achievement for Netanyahoo.
For a wider context of the new Russian position we have to look at the conflict in Syria. There the pressure on President Trump to launch a war on Syria’s government (and, make no mistake, thereby also on Hizbullah, Russia and Iran) is increasing. The probably-staged chemical incident yesterday was the starting point for an intense pro-war campaign.
Yesterday the Israeli Defense Minister Lieberman accused Syria:
Lieberman told Yedioth Ahronoth that Syrian planes carried out the two chemical attacks, which were “directly ordered and planned by Syrian President Bashar Assad.” He stressed he was “100 percent certain.” The defense minister said he did not know if Russia was involved in the attack.
Russia and Syria have denied that either of them used any chemical ammunition. They say that the Syrian air force bombed an al-Qaeda ammunition depot which, unknown to them, may have included chemical weapons.
Today the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahoo called the Russian President and part of that call was a serious rebuke from Putin:
Mr Putin and Mr Netanyahu exchanged views on the incident involving chemical weapons on April 4 in the Syrian province of Idlib. Mr Putin underscored, in particular, that it is unacceptable to make groundless accusations against any party until a thorough and objective international investigation has been conducted.
But also part of that call, though not mentioned in the official note, must have been some agreement that led to the release of the statement above by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
A deal must have been made. A give and take and the West-Jerusalem release is part of the payment or reward. It is a HUGE price to win for Israel as Russia’s concession also gives cover for President Trump to make a similar announcement without messing up U.S. relations with Arab states.
We can only speculate on the Israeli side of the deal but there must be something Netanyahoo committed to. Russia would not offer the new position for nothing.
The mighty Zionist lobby in the U.S. (AIPAC & Co) is pushing for an immediate war on Syria. (It did so in 2013 but Obama called the war off at that time after the British parliament and later Congress rejected it.)
Netanyahoo could let it known that he prefers no war on Syria. The Zionist lobby in the U.S. would then shut up, pressure on Trump would be much relieved, a new war on Syria could be avoided.
In 2013 Putin arranged for a deal to destroy Syria’s chemical arsenal. The elimination of Syria’s strategic weapons was a huge gift to Israel. It also allowed Obama to keep face and keep away from war despite all pressure.
Now Putin is making another huge offer. Will Israel take this gift? Will Netanyahoo call off its AIPAC dogs of war?
The offer is not Russia’s last political resort with regard to Israel.
A million Israelis are of Russian heritage. They emigrated to Israel in the 1980s and 90s. They are mostly not really Jews but vote conservative. They also admire and cherish Putin. That is one reason why no Israeli politician, especially Netanyahoo, can afford a big political conflict with Russia.
Putin’s ultimate threat to Netanyahoo is to influence the Russian voters in Israel and to make them vote against him. It is a personal nuke under Netanyahoo’s seat.
But Putin does not like to issue threats. He offers and makes deals. So one wonders what the real deal behind the above acknowledgement of West-Jerusalem is. Is my speculation correct or are there better explanations?
Comment: The change reportedly took the Israeli media and government by surprise:
The Times of Israel said it regarded the Russian statement as an “unexpected, unprecedented, and curiousmove.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry was taken aback by the statement.
“We are studying the matter,” the paper quoted a ministry spokesman as saying.
The Times wrote: “Recognizing only the western part of it would appear to deny Israel’s claims to the eastern part, including the Old City, which it captured in 1967 and subsequently annexed.”
The Jerusalem Post called it a “surprise” announcement.
It reported that Russia’s ambassador to Israel will meet with Foreign Ministry officials in the coming days to discuss the announcement. It said there is no plan to move Russia’s embassy to Jerusalem at this time.
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