President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and begin procedures to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem has engendered immense criticism that it will destabilize any existing peace between Israel and Palestine.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned of “dangerous consequences” for any peace process as a result of the decision, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey threatened to cut off relations with Israel, and Saudi Arabia issued a similar public denunciation of the president’s decision.
The president’s critics say he has alienated the Palestinians and the Arab world in one fell stroke, dealing a death knell to any future peace processes between Israel and Palestine and may even be responsible for violence. Abbas’s political party called for three “days of rage” and riots are expected in the West Bank.
The only problem, however, is that no substantive peace process is in the works or has existed in recent years. U.S. law has dictated since 1995 that the U.S. Embassy must be moved to Jerusalem and every President since Bill Clinton has pledged to follow through on the move. “If the movement of an American Embassy that was signaled more than 20 years ago is enough to scuttle peace talks, then maybe the basis for peace doesn’t yet exist,” the Wall Street Journal editorial board poignantly observed.
Palestinian political leaders’ call for riots may also be a consequence of long-held U.S. reluctance to move the embassy and recognize the capital, Eli Lake of Bloomberg explains.
“Palestinians are fed a steady stream of propaganda about the danger to Jerusalem,” Lake declared, adding “that’s the real danger of sticking to the policy of Jerusalem neutrality. It feeds a Palestinian illusion: With enough patience and rage, one day the Jews will be evicted from their eternal capital. That’s not going to happen.”
Even many of the protests from Arab nations may but little more than bluster, Shadi Hamid of the Atlantic observes.
“Most Arab countries won’t care much about Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” Hamid declares, pointing out the strong relationship between Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed Bin Salman and the Trump administration. “If Saudi officials, including the crown prince himself, were particularly concerned with Jerusalem’s status, they would presumably have used their privileged status as a top Trump ally and lobbied the administration to hold off on such a needlessly toxic move.”
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