Pam Barker | Director of TLB Europe Reloaded Project
In the past 24 hours we’ve seen Trump announce the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel although moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv has been postponed for yet another six months. The backlash in the Muslim world against Trump, America and Israel is now coming thick and fast, with claims that peace in the region (a plan for which Trump will present soon) will now be impossible.
Once the Syrian situation had somewhat resolved itself with Russia’s help against western-backed ISIS, Netanyahu – with Saudi Arabia in a supporting role – then went on the offensive against Iran and Iran’s influence in Lebanon. War seemed possible. Now the entire Arab and Muslim world has a reason to unite against Israel. Trump’s Jerusalem decision is surely the zionist gift no zionist actually wants. So what is Trump’s real aim here? Readers might be interested in an opinion piece by RT (Trump’s Jerusalem decision: Ignorance & political risk or ‘business opportunity’?).
Jennifer Williams and Sarah Wildman in an article for Vox (Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, explained) make a fine but important linguistic distinction in regard to Jerusalem’s new status (emphasis added):
Though Trump affirmed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he didn’t call it the undivided capital of Israel — suggesting the US would still support potentially dividing Jerusalem between the Israelis and the Palestinians as part of future peace negotiations.
Indeed, he explicitly stated that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty and Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations of a future peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis.
“We are not taking a position on any final status issues including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders,” Trump said.
That matters. For years, official US policy has been support for a two-state solution, with the final status of Jerusalem to be decided as part of a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Had Trump chosen to go further and declare Jerusalem to be the undivided capital of Israel, it would have sent the message that the US has taken a clear position on Jerusalem’s final status.
Abbas Urges UN to Stop Trump from Recognizing Jerusalem as Israeli Capital
Hours before US President Donald Trump is expected to announce his decision to move the American embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognized the Israeli-occupied city as the official capital of Israel, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, in a last-ditch-effort, is reportedly pleading to the United Nations (UN) to stop the move.
In his letter, Abbas said that “this would end the peace process,” which Trump and his administration have attempted to revive in the first year of his presidency, with reports in recent weeks suggesting that the “ultimate peace plan” would be announced soon.
Israeli news daily Haaretz quoted Nabil Shaath, a senior Palestinian official, as saying that
“the mother of all the [peace] deals dies here on the rocks in Jerusalem if he says tomorrow that he recognizes a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
While many countries have consulates in Jerusalem that cater to citizens residing in the occupied Palestinian territory, the majority of embassies to Israel are located in the Tel Aviv area, which is recognized by the international community as Israel’s capital.
If implemented, the move would be seen as the first step to a drastic abdication of longstanding US policy that has largely adhered to international standards on Israel-Palestine, which maintains that East Jerusalem is an intricate part of occupied Palestinian territory and the capital of any future Palestinian state, despite Israel’s annexation of the territory.
The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the “Judaization” of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.