Jerusalem between two fires: Trump decision and the Arab weakness.
In the beginning of June last year, US president, Donald Trump, put off the process of moving his country’s embassy from Tal Aviv to Jerusalem for another six months because the conditions then were not convenient. Keeping the embassy in Tal Aviv will guarantee the US national security interests in the Middle East, let alone the fact that delaying the decision of moving the embassy was to give a chance to reach a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians as the US claims.
The delay of the decision of moving the embassy disappointed the Israelis at that time. They decided that Trump did not keep his promises he mentioned in his presidential electoral campaign to move the embassy, the same way 20 US presidents or nominees didn’t do since 1972.
However, recently, Trump did it and decided to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, while he confirms that the US recognizes it as the eternal undivided capital of the state of Israel. He confirms that he instructed the start of the preparations to move the US embassy in Israel from Tal Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump announced this in his speech on Wednesday December 6th 2017 turning deaf ears to all voices that used to reject the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem.
The United States Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, confirmed that the US would immediately implement the decision claiming that Trump decision makes the US presence in harmony with the reality that Jerusalem is home to Israel’s legislature, Supreme Court, President’s office, and Prime Minister’s office.
True that 20 US predecessors pledged to relocate the embassy and recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, but none of them implemented this in reality. This issue was no more than propaganda statements to attract Tal Aviv and the Zionist Lobby’s sympathy, although this was a public law passed by the US Congress on October 23rd 1995, (Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995). The then public law expressed the US desire to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel and to move its embassy in Israel from Tal Aviv to Jerusalem no later than May 1999. What is surprising is that the law falsely claims that Israel worked on uniting Jerusalem after it was divided.
Trump’s historic decision marks the initiation of the century’s deal about which the US and the Arab governments are talking about. With Trump announcement, a complete century has passed after the British government issued Balfour Declaration. This statement will make Trump a legend and a difficult number in the eyes of the Americans and the Israelis, as he did what the previous US presidents could not do before.
The danger of declaring Jerusalem capital of Israel
Definitely, US recognition of Jerusalem the eternal and undivided capital of Israel confirms that the US is not an impartial mediator and that it is biased in favor of Israel completely adopting the Israeli vision. This recognition implies a number of risks that are sure to happen on both arenas, the Palestinian and the Arab.
- Trump’s decision blocked the way before what is called the peace process and it made its illusion explicit. Undoubtedly, this ended the PLO and the Palestinian authority hopes about the two-state solution. He recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and he didn’t specify which Jerusalem precisely: is it the eastern, the western, the undivided or the expanded?
- This Trump political act knocks out the so-called ‘Arab Israeli conflict’ which is shrunk to ‘the Palestinian Israeli conflict’ and it made the international community view the Palestinians as a gang or gangs threatening the Israeli national security. This exactly is what some Israeli ideologists announce and what makes the embassy relocation very important to Israel.
- Trump’s decision ends the possibility of having Jerusalem as an area under international sovereignty, to be governed by a special international regime. the partition resolution number 181 called for Jerusalem to be under international sovereignty and many political initiatives talked about putting it under international sovereignty while maintaining the freedom of religions, Islam, Christianity and Jewish. This resolution blocks the way before the ambitions of some super powers, such as Russia, in Jerusalem and it cuts off the Arabs and Muslims connection with Jerusalem even if temporarily, veering in mind that this paves the way to all foreign institutions operating in Israel to move their locations to Jerusalem and legalizes the occupation of Jerusalem in a way that contradicts all international laws and resolutions.
- Trump decision facilitates the establishment of the Israeli occupation state by announcing Jerusalem an entire Jewish city. This entails finding a solution for the other ethnic and religious minorities, such as the Arabs, the Kurds, the Turks, the Druze, the Armenians and the Circassians. The most prominent solution lies in founding a political link between them and Jordan in a confederal or semi- confederate rule.
- It is to be recalled that Trump started with the most dangerous and most important file in the Arab-Israeli conflict. This means that the Arab acceptance of the new situation will pave the way to the US administration and the Israeli occupation to eliminate the Palestinian cause files, the most important then the least important. The second step will be ending the refugees’ file by settling them in the places where they exist while providing them with some financial and in-kind aid.
- If Jerusalem is the target of the Israeli and US ambitions, this necessarily means that other Arab areas with be a target of the Israeli and US ambitions. What we mean is that Golan will be a certain target of the Israeli ambitions. This is because Israel full control of Golan will guarantee maintaining the Israeli national security from the north east because Israel is founded on a small area that is not enough to establish a state without controlling the surrounding areas, as it is known in military geography. It is an area that is not fit as a shooting field and it lacks all the bases of military geography needed to the establishment of the occupation state in it.
- Golan is not less important than Jerusalem to Israel. Jerusalem gives Israel the doctrinal religious power while Golan gives it the power of defense and maintaining its presence and security. This was what forced the Israeli Knesset to ratify Golan law: applying Israel’s government and laws to the Golan Heights on December 14, 1981.
The Arab and Islamic stance is disappointing
It was clear that the Arab and Palestinian leadership did not pay any attention to trump’s statements concerning relocating the US embassy to Jerusalem. Rather, they felt contented for these statements believing this issue of moving the embassy is no more than a completion of the electoral campaign and seeking more attraction of the Zionist Lobby in the us and the extremist right in Israel.
What is really shameful is that the Arab leaders of the countries of direct relation with the Palestinian cause were aware of Trump’s decision to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem. What is worse is the approval of those leaders of Trumps demand to calm down any resistance in their countries in case of uprisings or if the US embassies are attacked in the Arab world.
Yisrael Katz, the Israeli Minister of intelligence points out that Trump’s decision regarding Jerusalem came in coordination with Arab leaders so that they participate in containing the Palestinians anger and in preventing them from any hard reactions. Barak Ravid, the political commentator of Israel’s Channel 10 news, reported a top ranking official in the US administration as saying that Washington is very relieved regarding the controlled condemnation the moderate Arab countries expressed regarding Trump’s decision.
Probably, everyone noticed the way Gulf media men attacked Palestinians and the Palestinian cause and how they doubted the right of Palestinians in their lands. They rejected the ancient presence of Palestinians in Palestine and the Levant. This explains the knowledge of some or all Arab leaders of the US intentions to relocate the embassy time ago. What those media men were doing was to prepare the Arab public opinion to accept the new situation imposed by the US.
Quite a number of Hebrew articles written by Israeli political analysts showed their stunning and admiration of the writings and statements of some Saudi educated and media men recently concerning Jerusalem and Palestine. It no longer escapes anyone that Memri, the Hebrew site, described these articles as the weirdest as they harshly criticized the anti-Jewish discourse in the Arab Islamic society.
True that the Arab countries and the official and unofficial institutions and even the international community showed rejection stances of Trump’s decision, but they were ink on paper and expressed the state of inability and weakness the Arab nation is living. These stances are not up to the level that suits the importance of Jerusalem position at the Arab, Islamic and international levels. These stances can be classified in the framework of anxiety, condemnation, denunciation and the sound phenomena Arabs used to hear from their leaders since they wanted to throw Israel in the sea right before their defeat in 1967 war.
The President of the Palestinian Authority in particular considered Trump decision shocking and this statement is extremely shocking. It came after Abbas knowledge of Trump decision and, second, it came recorded not live. This means that there are international parties who reviewed Abbas statement before it was broadcast. This is because live broadcast might lead to tension in the Palestinian arena and might trigger a new Intifada in the occupied Jerusalem or in any other area.
His speech in the Extraordinary Islamic Summit, which was held in Istanbul on Wednesday 13th of December 2017 in Istanbul, called for by the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, showed Abbas more precise and explicit. His speech lacked practical steps and mechanisms on the one hand and does not refer to the aspirations and the procedures of the Palestinian authority, on the other hand. Consequently, it can be considered an in passing statement, exactly like the expansive statements Abbas announced during the last ten years.
The Extraordinary Islamic Summit in Istanbul, despite its importance, was not up to the required level. It was attended by 16 countries out of 57 Arab and Islamic countries which contain 1.7 billion Muslims. The presence of Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela was more effective than the presence of some attending countries. What is unfortunate is that the largest Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt did not show presence at the required level. This refers to the acceptance of these countries of Trump’s decision. It is worth referring to a phrase said by the well-known Egyptian media man Mohamed Hassane in Heikal when he answered a question about the timing of moving the US embassy to Cairo: this will happen when Saudi Arabia approves and when Egypt is silent.
There are old understandings between Yossi Beilin and Mahmoud Abbas known as Beilin-Abu Mazen Document in 1995. It concluded that Jerusalem will remain under the Israeli control and the ‘Palestinian Entity’ will not have ‘a governing center’ inside Jerusalem. The Palestinian inhabitants inside the Arab areas in Jerusalem should be given ‘some participation in running their life in the city’.
Towards a national support strategy of Jerusalemites
Neither the Palestinians nor the Arabs will be able to do any act that can threaten the US interests and no one will dare do this. Arabs can no longer use the oil weapon and the countries surrounding Israel no longer pose and threat on Israel and many Arab countries are preoccupied with their internal concerns.
Let’s be honest with ourselves: what came in Trump’s speech was expected to happen any time. Some politicians on the Palestinian arena, however, intended to state the exact opposite. They also tried repeatedly to press the Palestinian street awareness in order to gain the sympathy of the US administration and to maintain the non-occurrence of a new Intifada.
The Palestinian leadership was supposed to form a strategic plan to stop settlement and Judaization and to maintain Jerusalem as the capital of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. But, it didn’t despite the fact that the Palestinian authority has been founded in Gaza Strip and the West Bank for about 24 years. Eventually, more than 88% of Jerusalem is under the Israeli control, and the remaining 12% suffer Judaization and settlement every minute and most of the West Bank area are under the Israeli control.
Finally, considering Trump political act, we can say that what is coming is more dangerous and more difficult for Palestinians and on them. Consequently, they have to realize their mistakes and start an immediate and real reconciliation, away from the mentality of banishing and exclusiveness the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is practicing. They have to immediately start forming a salvation plan to avoid the coming dangers that threaten the remaining Palestinians in Jerusalem and to support the withstanding of Jerusalemites instead of spending 45% of the budget on the Palestinian security that doesn’t dare stand in the face of an Israeli soldier in the cities of the West Bank.