Analysis: The aftermath of Trump's Jerusalem declaration

Rationale, results and reactions to Trump's historic declaration that the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital city.

Yochanan Visser,

Trump announces recognition of Jerusalem
Trump announces recognition of Jerusalem

Yochanan Visser is an independent journalist/analyst who worked for many years as Middle East correspondent for Western in Arizona and was a frequent publicist for the main Dutch paper De Volkskrant. He authored a book in the Dutch language about the cognitive war against Israel and now lives in Gush Etzion.

Watching the hysterical reactions to President Trump’s decision to finally execute the 1995 Congressional Jerusalem Embassy Act and to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the capital of the country, one could be reminded of the words of the prophet Zechariah (12:2)

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem,” the Prophet said thousands of years ago.

Across the globe tens of thousands of protesters took the streets to express their anger with Trump’s decision while leaders of states, including America’s allies, lined up to condemn the move.

In Israel, Palestinian Arabs and their Israeli brothers did what they always do when they don’t agree with an issue concerning Israel: they resorted to violence and terrorism.

Hamas leader Ishmael Haniyeh even claimed Trump had just declared war on the Palestinian Arabs and called upon the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military arm of the terrorist organization, to mobilize and to prepare for the next war with Israel.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas also denounced Trump’s decision on Jerusalem calling the holy city “ the eternal capital of Palestine” while announcing the U.S. was no longer able to play the role of honest broker in the peace process he himself did in eight years ago when he never responded to Ehud Olmert’s far-reaching peace proposals.

In their anger, the Palestinian Arabs conveniently forgot that Trump had said his decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv and to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would not jeopardize the current drive to restart the moribund peace process and would not preclude territorial concessions in the city.

To the contrary, both the President and Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu claimed the decision would contribute to peace in the long run.

“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. Those questions are up to the parties involved,” Trump said while admitting Jerusalem is one of the most “sensitive issues” and expressing confidence Israel and the Palestinian Arabs will eventually “arrive at a peace and a place far greater in understanding and cooperation.”

So who’s right? Trump and Netanyahu or their opponents who claim the move will be the death knell for the ‘peace process’ and will make re-division of the city impossible?

First of all, as Trump pointed out in his speech last Wednesday, his decision means the United States finally breaks with the failed policies of the past.

For almost seventy years the U.S. used the same formula in its approach to the Palestinian Israeli conflict and failed to achieve peace despite numerous initiatives.

“It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result,” Trump said using a variation on Einstein’s definition of insanity.

That formula was based on the assumption that Israel and the Palestinian Arabs both had an equal claim on Jerusalem and envisioned renewed partition of the city under a future peace agreement.

Secondly, the Arab claim that moving the U.S. embassy to western Jerusalem, which has been under Israeli control for almost 70 years and has been Israel’s capital again since 1948, will ‘destabilize’ the region is beyond the truth.

As one commentator puts it: “Has anybody noticed what has been going on in the Middle East since a Tunisian vegetable vendor set himself on fire?”

Then there is the fact that before the Yom Kippur War in 1973, fully 16 countries had their embassy in Israeli-controlled Jerusalem among them The Netherlands and 11 South American countries.

The presence of these embassies in Jerusalem didn’t constitute de jure recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem by these countries nor did it prevent peace initiatives or escalate the conflict.

Furthermore, the threats about a new ‘Intifada’ by Hamas or even war if the U.S. goes through with the plan to relocate the embassy were nothing more than a worn-out means to blackmail Trump and giving in to these threats would have meant handing victory to terrorism.

Appeasing terrorists never worked, to the contrary, it is an incentive to more violence and would encourage those who never reconciled them with the existence of a Jewish state in the Dar-al-Islam the territory which once formed the first Caliphate.

In 1948, David Ben Gurion was pressured by the U.S. State Department to postpone declaring independence to which the first Israeli PM reportedly replied: Independence will always lead to Arab aggression so there is no need to postpone independence.

As for Trump and Netanyahu’s claim that the American recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem and the execution of the Jerusalem Embassy Act will actually contribute to the solution of the conflict, peace can only be achieved when it is based on the truth.

The Palestinian Arabs, supported by much of the international community, have conducted a nasty campaign of lies, denialism and delegitimization against Israel for a long time now.

The Palestinian discourse about the 100-year-old-conflict has always been based on the denial of Jewish history in the land of Israel and the canard that there always has been a ‘Palestinian people’ which now claims Jerusalem as its “eternal capital.”

That’s why Trump’s statement that “Israel has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem, the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times," was so important.

It was perhaps the most important line in the whole speech and as Professor Alan Dershowitz pointed out it was the “perfect response” to former U.S. President Obama’s decision to throw Israel under the bus by supporting UN Security Council Resolution 2334 of December 2016.

That one-sided resolution denied Israel’s rights in Jerusalem and said that Israel’s presence in places like the Western Wall, Judaism’s second holy site, and the historic Jewish quarter of the Old City was “a flagrant violation under international law.”

Dershowitz, who voted two times for Obama in the presidential elections in the U.S., now says “Trump did the right thing by undoing the wrong President Obama did at the end of his presidency.”

Jerusalem has always been the core of Judaism and while the Koran doesn’t even mention the name of the city once, the Bible mentions Jerusalem more than 660 times.

For almost two thousand years Jews have yearned to return to Jerusalem and they already formed the majority of the residents of the city since the middle of the 19th century.

“Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is the essential step without which peace can never be achieved,” according to Times columnist Melanie Phillips who harshly criticized Western countries for not supporting Trump's historic move.

Danny Danon Israel's ambassador to the UN concurred.

Danon says that Trump's recognition of Jerusalem "can serve as a healthy reality check for the Palestinians."

"As more and more countries begin to recognize our capital as fully under Israeli sovereignty, the reality will set in that neither terrorism nor Security Council resolutions will succeed in forcing our hand on a compromise in Jerusalem," according to Danon - who expects more countries will now follow Trump's example.

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