If the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 permitting the setting up of a Jewish State of Israel on Palestinian lands turned the Middle East on its head; US president Trump’s declaration on 6 December, recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Palestinian lands illegally annexed, and the shifting of the US embassy there, sent the Palestinian people’s cause and hopes for an early settlement to the century-old problem into a tailspin. The results were immediate and not unexpected. Palestinians reacted with anger and protests.
As the world watched the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu celebrated with further aerial strikes on civilians in Gaza. The bombing raids resulted in the deaths of at least six Palestinian children - Israel’s retaliation for a missile strike which harmed not a single Israeli or any other person.
While the setting up of the State of Israel was supported by the US and West European powers, today we see powerful Middle Eastern states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt limiting their condemnation of the American stance on Jerusalem to the mere mouthing of empty rhetorical protests.
Saudi Arabia, America’s biggest ally in the region, just a few short months ago signed an over $ 350 million trade deal with the US. Prior to the signing of the trade agreement, the Saudis asked Trump to desist from moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem or recognising Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Through Wednesday’s action Trump showed the Saudis he cared tuppence for their concerns or their attempt to pursuade him via the $350 million trade deal.
However the Saudis are not the only allies whom Mr. Trump has spurned, Britain, France, Germany and even Pope Francis, all attempted to pressurise the US president into not shifting the US embassy to Jerusalem or recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. They were all contemptuously disregarded by the US president. But, was Trump’s decision to ignore concerns of both US allies in the middle east and the NATO countries as ‘unexpected’ as it appears?
In November -long before Trump’s ‘surprise announcement’- we saw Saudi Arabia’s new strongman Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS), all of a sudden, suggesting Palestinians give up their claim for Jerusalem as their capital and offering Abu Dis (a Palestinian village near Jerusalem) as a future capital!
To add insult to injury MBS (not to be mistaken with Indian cricketer MSD) gave Palestinian President Abbas two months to respond to his offer!
In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s announcement (8 December), Israel’s News 10 reported that “Saudi Arabia and Egypt gave US President Donald Trump the go ahead to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied city...).
Is there another secret plan at play? - Are there wheels within wheels and grease within sleaze? Is this the beginning of a new game plan in the Middle East? Is a secretive plan unfolding before our eyes?
The leadership in Saudi Arabia and Egypt have long viewed Iran as an enemy and charged that country with exporting terrorism, even though it is well known that it is the Saudi kingdom itself which has been exporting its militant brand of Islam not only to neighbouring middle east states, but together with the US funded Osama bin Laden and al Queda’s activities in Afghanistan.
John Kerry the former US Secretary of State under President Obama, revealed that prior to the signing of the nuclear deal with Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt all pressurized the US to bomb Iran prior to negotiations on the 2015 nuclear deal... The only Muslim state strongly opposing the US involvement in the Middle East is Iran.
This begs the question as to whether the US President’s recognition of Israel’s claim to Jerusalem and the Saudi’ reaction -limited to words- is an ‘exchange programme’ a prelude to US-backed Israeli attacks against Iran?
Are the Saudi’s and the Egyptians about to sell their birthright for a mess of pottage?