Liberty Expose: Jerusalem, Israel
The move would “harm peace negotiations and increase tensions in the region,” according to the Saudi King. The Jordanian monarch echoed the Saudi’s sentiment, warning over “dangerous repercussions.” The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, called President Trump with the warning that the action he was going to take would lead to an outbreak of violence.
What exactly is warranting these grave visions from some of the most powerful leaders of the Middle East? Is the United States planning on launching an attack on an unsuspecting peaceful nation? Or is the US stationing a nuclear ICBM in the region? No, rather President Trump is doing something that ostensibly enrages more people than the rampant violence and despair that plagues the region: he is recognizing Jerusalem of the eternal capital of Israel.
The move was announced on Tuesday. It comes after 20 years of delaying the repositioning of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem after the Senate unanimously recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 1995. Since congress’ recognition of Israel, the executive has been signing a wavier delaying the move every six months since its inception. Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have postponed moving the embassy under the notion that such a move would inhibit the peace process between Israel and Palestine.
The announcement found condemnation and disproval from the governments of the EU, along with individual opposition from France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, and the Vatican, amongst others; all of which pushed the same line of the United States delaying the peace process in the region. Observers in Israel have approved the move by the president.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went on TV to voice his support of the decision. Israeli opposition parliamentarians have also approved of the decision by the Trump administration. Palestinian leaders have floated the idea of cutting relations with the US government. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that he will call a meeting of Islamic nations to review how they should retaliate against Israel; Tukey has also flirted the idea of cutting relations with Israel.
Jerusalem has been a volatile subject in the Middle East since the Six-Day War in 1967. The war, in which Israel launched a preemptive strike after intelligence suggested an imminent attack from a multi-nation Arab coalition, resulted in the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem form Jordan (West Jerusalem has already under Israeli control). Instead of returning the territory back to the nation that refused to recognize Israel’s existence, Israel kept Jerusalem. In 1980, Israel declared Jerusalem to be the eternal capital of the Jewish people, an act the world refused to legitimize until the Senate’s recognition in 1995.
Much of the opposition to the recognition is predicated on the notion that this will harm the political theater that has been labeled the “Israel-Palestine peace process.” Don’t be fooled. The history of the Israel-Palestine peace process is one in which the former offers a concession, and the latter responds with violence when they do not get their way. Let’s examine the recent history of this trend:
in 2000, then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon offered Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat (a Nobel Peace Prize recipient) what his group have been fighting for year for – a Palestinian state. In the deal, Israel would hand over 90% of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and all of the Gaza Strip for a new sovereign, independent Palestinian state. Arafat responded by launching the Second Intifada; a wave of terrorist attacks that would leave more than 600 Israelis dead. The murders only stopped four years later when Israel walled off much of the West Bank from Israel, and stationed Israel Defense Forces within Palestine to set up check points.
Sporadic, individual violence has never ceased, and began to heighten again in 2015 during the so-called Knife Intifada. It is hard to imagine the recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital hindering the peace process because, in reality, the peace process in almost non-existent.
All of this is preceded by decades of violent opposition. The lessons of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr – that the most effective way to sway the will of a liberal democracy is done though non-violent resistance – has been disregarded. One wonders if a political settlement was the true goal, as opposed to blind opposition to the Jewish state.
If history is not convincing of the reality of the situation, maybe the responses to the announcement are. Hamas, the terrorist hegemon of Gaza Strip that reputedly attacks Israel, has declared a “day of rage” in response to the news, and has stated President Trump “unleashed the gates of hell.” In the Gaza Strip, protesters burned American flags and posters of President Trump.
What is most telling that all this is done over a move that is purely symbolic. Fears have been raised, and may very well be confirmed, over new cycles of violence because of the US government stating that Israel was the eternal capital of the Jewish state.
A “day of rage” is not an act adults participate in. In the West, violent and destructive behavior over not getting one’s way, especially when it is symbolic, is commonly referred to as a temper tantrum – an act of emotion perpetuated by children. If that is how Palestinian opponents of the embassy move and the recognition of Jerusalem act, then Israel and Palestine are a lot farther to peace than the world anticipated.