Showing posts with label Jerusalem. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jerusalem. Show all posts

May 16, 2018

Why Trump's Move of The US Embassy to Jerusalem Was For Anything But Peace

 Tear gas with bullets rain on the Palestinians on the Gaza Side of Jerusalem

"Our greatest hope is for peace." Those were the words of Donald Trump in a recorded message at the Jerusalem ceremony. 
But the opening line in White House talking points cut straight to the top priority: "President Donald J Trump keeps his promise." 
Mr. Trump decided to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem because he likes to keep campaign promises made to his base. 
He also likes to make big bold historic moves, especially if that means delivering where his predecessors did not. 
So far so good on the principles of Trumpian foreign policy.  
In this case, his base also lobbied hard for the move. That included right-wing American Jews whose message was amplified by the conservative orthodox Jews dominating Mr. Trump's inner circle.  

It also included evangelicals whose voice was amplified by the devout Christian in the White House, Vice-President Mike Pence. 
"God decided Jerusalem was the capital of Israel more than 3,000 years ago during the time of King David," I was told by Dallas evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress, who cited Biblical history. He and another leading voice in the pro-Israel part of the Christian world delivered prayers at the opening ceremony. 

So what about the peace process?

"The United States remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement," Mr. Trump also said in his recorded message. 
He has declared an interest in solving the "toughest deal of all" and, despite the outrage over Jerusalem, the White House is still intent on rolling out a detailed initiative of a settlement it thinks is achievable. 
Its authors -Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and his lawyer Jason Greenblatt - concluded that shaking up the status quo could help their efforts by giving the Palestinians a dose of reality, says former Mid-East negotiator Aaron David Miller. 
And the Palestinian deaths in Gaza make that prospect even less likely. The administration argues it is simply recognizing the obvious in accepting Jerusalem as Israel's capital and that the city's final boundaries can still be determined in negotiations. 
But confusingly, Trump has also said he has taken the issue "off the table". And he has failed to say anything about Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem. 
So whatever the intent, he appears to have sided with Israel on one of the most volatile issues in the peace process and prejudiced the final outcome of any talks.

Does this mean an explosion?

The Trump administration has also sided with Israel in its response to the deadly violence on the Gaza border. 
The White House accused Gaza's Hamas leaders of "intentionally and cynically" provoking Israel in an attempt at "gruesome propaganda" but, unlike European countries, it did not call on the army to exercise restraint. 
Hamas has been directing the weeks-long protest campaign by Palestinians frustrated with Israel's economic blockade of Gaza. 
Analysts said it was a chance for the militant Islamist movement to shift the blame for its own poor performance in government. 
The question now is whether the hundreds of casualties will trigger an uprising, or intifada, that spreads to the West Bank.

The Jerusalem decision itself did not do so and there are many reasons why the Gaza violence may not. That includes divisions in the Palestinian leadership and the high cost for Palestinians of a return to sustained conflict. 
But it is a volatile situation fuelled by a sense of Palestinian hopelessness that could lead to further escalation. 

Crossing a red line?

What seems more likely to me at the moment is a slower unraveling of the peace process framework which for the past 25 years has led to neither peace nor all-out war. 
Despite spasms of conflict, it has maintained certain fundamentals. 
The Israelis have not annexed the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority continues security co-operation, in effect helping Israel police its own people. 
The framework is held up by an American mediator that is seen by many as somewhat credible, if not neutral.

Every previous US administration has been pro-Israel but made some effort to understand and respond to the Palestinian narrative, says Mr. Miller.
This one is so "deeply ensconced" in the Israeli narrative it has crossed a red line, he says. 
If so, it will be difficult for it to keep propping up the framework, with unpredictable results. 
It is true that key Arab countries seem more willing to sanction a settlement less favorable to the Palestinians than before because they want Israel as an ally against Iran. 
But Trump's decision on Jerusalem, and Israel's heavy-handed approach in Gaza reduces their room for maneuver.

December 22, 2017

UN Votes Declaring The US Decision On Jerusalem 'Null and Void'

By: Itamar Eichner, Elior Levy, Reuters and The Associated Press
Approved with an overwhelming majority of 128-9, the UN General assembly passes resolution declaring US' recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel 'null and void.'
The General Assembly convened on Thursday for an emergency session, passing with a decisive 128-9 with 35 abstentions a resolution declaring US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel "null and void."

Thursday's vote, while a victory for the Palestinians, was significantly lower than its supporters had hoped for, with many forecasting at least 150 "yes" votes. It is noteworthy that 21 countries were absent.
UN General Assembly emergency session (Photo: AFP)
UN General Assembly emergency session (Photo: AFP)

"Israel rejects the UN decision and at the same time is satisfied with the high number of countries that did not vote in its favor," said a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, echoing his statement prior to the vote. 
"Israel thanks (US) President Trump for his unequivocal position in favor of Jerusalem and thanks the countries that voted together with Israel, together with the truth," it said.
Turkey's foreign minister said the UN members had shown that "dignity and sovereignty are not for sale" by voting in favor of the resolution.

In comments made on Twitter, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also said that Turkey, Palestine and other co-sponsors thanked every country that supported the resolution in the United Nations General Assembly.

Israeli PM Netanyahu (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Israeli PM Netanyahu (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

A spokesman for Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the vote's result.

"The vote is a victory for Palestine," said Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah. "We will continue our efforts in the United Nations and at all international forums to put an end to this occupation and to establish our Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital."

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said prior to the vote that this assembly would teach future generations how Palestinian diplomacy succeeded in defeating the world's greatest superpower.

Al-Maliki also referred to the American threats to deny aid to countries that would vote against the resolution, calling it diplomatic and political ignorance that the United States has forced states, including poor ones, to declare that they are giving up US aid.
 (Photo: EPA)
(Photo: EPA)

At the assembly, Yemen’s UN ambassador introduced the UN resolution, urging all "peace-loving countries" to vote in favor of it.

Ambassador Khaled Hussein Mohamed Alyemany called President Donald Trump’s action "a blatant violation of the rights of the Palestinian people and the Arab nations, and all Muslims and Christians of the world."

He added the US decision "is considered a dangerous violation and breach of international law."

Alyemany says it threatens peace in the world, undermines any chance for peace in the Mideast "and only serves to fan the fires of violence and extremism."

The vote
The vote

Stepping up to the podium, US Ambassador Nikki Haley responded to Alyemany and to the resolution in general by threatening the 193 UN member states and the United Nations with funding cuts should approves it.

Haley told the emergency assembly meeting that "no vote in the United Nations will make any difference" on the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, which will go ahead "no matter what" because "it is the right thing to do."

She then stressed that "the United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very right of exercising our right as a sovereign nation.”

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (Photo: AFP)
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (Photo: AFP)

"We will remember it when we are called upon once again to make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations,” she warned. “And we will remember when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit."

Haley summarized by saying the vote "will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN, and this vote will be remembered." 
Israel's UN ambassador Danny Danon blasted the UN resolution, saying it will eventually be rejected and end up in the "trash bin of history."

"Forty-two years ago this body adopted a different shameful resolution equating Zionism with racism. It took 16 long years for that hateful resolution to be revoked," he said.

"I have no doubt that today’s resolution will also end up eventually in the trash bin of history. I have no doubt that the day will come when the entire international community will finally recognize Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the State of Israel," he added.

Israel's UN ambassador Danny Danon (Photo: AFP)
Israel's UN ambassador Danny Danon (Photo: AFP)

"No General Assembly resolution will ever drive us from Jerusalem,” he continued. "It is shameful for the United Nations that I stand here today and that the conference is even taking place. 

"Jerusalem is the holiest place for Israel and the Jewish people, period. This is an indisputable fact. King David declared it 3,000 years ago. In the Jewish Bible Jerusalem mentioned 660 times, we prayed repeatedly to reach Jerusalem.

"'(First Prime Minister of Israel) David Ben-Gurion himself said that 'Jerusalem is an inseparable part of the future and fate of Israel.'" 
Driving the point home, Danon then presented an ancient Jerusalem coin. "The coin I'm presenting is from 67 CE and it says 'Freedom of Zion,'" he said. "This is clear evidence from the time of the Second Temple, and proves a direct connection between Jews and Jerusalem."  
The coin Danon presented
The coin Danon presented
The resolution is very similar to the defeated Security Council resolution, which was vetoed by the US on Monday.

It reaffirms 10 Security Council resolutions on Jerusalem, dating back to 1967, including requirements that the city's final status must be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

It "affirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the holy city of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded."

The resolution  "demands that all comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the holy city of Jerusalem, and not to recognize any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions."

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