Wednesday night’s decision by United States President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, showing only utter contempt for the aspirations of the Palestinian people, has pushed the prospects for peace into a black hole, never to see light again.
Hopes of a peaceful solution to the Palestinian crisis are now virtually dead. Days and hours before Trump made the announcement, Pope Francis and world leaders, including close allies, expressed serious concern, while US State Department officials warned of grave repercussions. But Trump, being Trump, dismissed saner counsel and dropped a nuclear bomb to kill millions of people’s hope for peace. Invoking the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, he did what his predecessors dared not. In what he boasted was a fulfillment of yet another campaign promise, he announced that the US embassy would be shifted to Jerusalem in recognition of the city’s status as the capital of Israel. In his statement, there was nothing for the Palestinians, but it had everything Israel wanted.
What a Christmas gift for the Palestinians, especially the Christians, who on Wednesday night switched off Christmas lights at Jesus’ traditional birthplace in the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, in protest against Trump’s speech. Israel’s hardline Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a ‘Big Thank You’ address in Jerusalem, minutes after Trump ended his short speech in Washington DC. Hours later, recovering from the jolt, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinian leadership would never acknowledge Trump’s declaration. “This is a reward to Israel,” Abbas said adding that Trump’s move encouraged Israel’s “continuing occupation” of the Palestinian territories.
Trump’s toxic announcement will only lead to further radicalization of the Arabs and Muslims, worsening the mayhem in the conflict-ridden Middle East where peace is not even a museum piece.
Most Palestinians have long renounced violence in the hope that dialogue will help them establish their independent state with East Jerusalem as capital. But now, it will be more difficult to persuade them to keep faith in non-violence.
Perhaps, Trump’s action is part of a plan to provoke the Palestinians to resort to violence, so that Israel could take tougher security measures and seize more Palestinian land. Some see Trump’s action as a move to placate Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson who made a 100 million dollar campaign donation on a guarantee that Trump would recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Or were Trump’s Jewish son-in-law and Middle East envoy Jared Kushner and pro-Zionist Vice President Mike Pence prodding him?
Trump displayed he had no compunction about further victimising the Palestinian people. Well, this is nothing new to the United States which has over the years protected Israel from international censure for committing ethnic cleansing, killing Palestinian and Lebanese children, using banned weapons such as white phosphorous bombs, demolishing houses, destroying farms, building illegal settlements in occupied land, denying food, medicine, water and electricity to the Palestinians, and imprisoning thousands of activists. If these are not crimes against humanity, what are they?
The Palestinian people have been forced to suffer this injustice since the British colonialists committed the original sin by issuing the infamous 1917 Balfour Declaration that allowed the European Jews to carve out a country for them from the Ottoman Province of Palestine.
For Trump and his supporters, the Palestinian people are non-humans. They probably do not know that the Palestinian people have been living in the area for centuries even before Jerusalem changed hands from Byzantine rule to Muslim rule in 637 AD. With the spread of Islam, most people in the new territories embraced Islam.
The fact that the Palestinians are very much the sons and daughters of the soil just as the Jews are is lost on the besieged American president who is facing a probe on collusion with Russia to win the presidential election. Little does Trump realize that his action goes contrary to international law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits a foreign occupier from annexing or altering the boundaries of an occupying territory.
Now that Trump has crossed the Rubicon, what’s next? Certainly, it is not peace. Trump has made peace impossible in Palestine. A two-state solution with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital has been put on stake and set ablaze. Neither Israel nor the US will, even after Trump is gone, agree to return to status quo ante, vis-à-vis Jerusalem, the 5,000-year-old city, holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Jerusalem houses the Jewish Temple built by King Solomon, whom the Muslims regard as a prophet of God and call him “Sulaiman Alaihissalam (peace be upon him)”. On the East Jerusalem side, the Temple mount houses the Aqsa mosque, the third holiest place of worship for Muslims after the two mosques in Makkah and Madina. As an article of faith, Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad visited the Aqsa mosque in a night journey and experienced a heavenly ascension.
Netanyahu on Wednesday night promised that there would be no change in the status of the Aqsa mosque, which is administered by Jordan, under whose purview was East Jerusalem, before Israel occupied it during the 1967 war.
What are the options for the Palestinians, now that Trump has snatched from them their dearest Jerusalem, al-Quds, the thorniest issue in many peace talks? Can they push for one-state solution and become citizens of Israel? Israel fears the one-state solution because the Arabs will be more in numbers. Besides, such a prospect goes against Israel’s vision for an “exclusive” Jewish state.
Should the Palestinians return to the armed struggle? Palestinian group Hamas yesterday called on the Palestinians to launch an Intifada. Palestinians have no true friends in the Arab and Islamic world. To retake East Jerusalem, no Arab leader will declare war against Israel, a nuclear power. Neither will they impose an oil embargo on the US, similar to the one King Faisal of Saudi Arabia spearheaded in 1973. When the then National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger warned King Faisal that if the Arabs went ahead with the oil embargo, the US would use force, the wise and widely respected king replied: “You are the ones who can’t live without oil. We come from the desert and our ancestors live on dates and milk and we can easily go back and live like that again.”
Sadly, there are no leaders like King Faisal today in the divided Arab world. Weeks before the Trump announcement, reports said Saudi Arabia was allegedly working with the US for a Middle East solution that included a proposal to bring Jerusalem under international control.
Saudi Arabia urged Trump not to go ahead with the Jerusalem move, but Trump had only had disdain for Saudi Arabia though the kingdom in May in a bid to curry favour with the new US president signed US$ 380 billion worth deals, including US$ 110 billion arms purchases.
In a statement yesterday, the Saudi royal court described the US action as “unjustified and irresponsible”. That’s it. Period.
Yes, there will be protests and even violent incidents, but there won’t be a reversal of Trump’s move. The Arabs and Muslims have lost Jerusalem.
Beliver Saturday, 9 December 2017 06:34
The song of Easter ends with " Jerusalem, Lift up your gates and sing Hosanna in the highest"
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citizen Saturday, 9 December 2017 10:52
On temple mount and Jerusalem, the muslims worship towards Mecca with head to ground and their backs lifted to Jerusalem. If they think city is holy, would they do that and also use terrorist arms to fire Israel from the mosque.
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Eggy Sunday, 10 December 2017 10:54
If the Arabs had accepted the UN recommendation in 1947 and made Jerusalem an International City would they be in the position they find themselves now?
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