TODAY -

United States recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital : New approach to Mideast peace policy

John Phaltual *



In one of the greatest moment in history the President of the United States Donald Trump, on Wednesday, December 6, 2017, officially recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital and announced that the United States would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. President Trump made the announcement despite fierce opposition from America's allies in Europe and Arab countries alike. He has risked deep repercussions and it could affect the entire region with violent protests.

This day will forever be etched in the history books as one of the boldest and greatest moments in international politics as Jerusalem holds unique spiritual and religious significance for the world's Abrahamic religions of Jews, Christians and Muslims.

This announcement recognizes the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and sends a powerful message that rejects all those who wrongly seek to de-legitimize Israel through falsifying and erasing the profound ties that exist between the Jewish people and Jerusalem.

President Trump announcement is the type of clear leadership that is so vital for the region. In a much-anticipated speech from the White House, Mr. Trump argued that it was the right thing to do to acknowledge the reality that Jerusalem is the seat of Israel's government. It is the home of the Israeli parliament (the Knesset), as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the Prime Minister and the President. It is the headquarters of many government ministries. Decades of avoiding the fact, he said, has done little to resolve the protracted feud between Israelis and Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.

Mr. Trump's declarations make the United States the first country in the world to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as it was also the first country to recognize Israel when President Harry Truman granted de-facto recognition eleven months after the proclamation of independence of Israel on May 14, 1948 in Tel Aviv.

The embassy move was, and continued to be delayed by successive US government in order to appear neutral on the issues of Jerusalem. In 1995, the US Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act, urging the federal government to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and to recognize that the city is Israel's capital. The proposed law was adopted unanimously by the senate (93-5) and the House of Representatives (374-37). Despite passage, the law remained unimplemented by the Presidents- Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama consistently claiming the Presidential waiver on national security interests. The Act further asserted that every country has a right to designate the capital of its choice, and that Israel has designated Jerusalem.

On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted a Resolution (181), "the UN Partition Plan for Palestine" and placed Jerusalem city under a special international regime, a corpus separatum, administered by the United Nations. On December 1949, the Israeli interim Cabinets in Tel Aviv declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and in January 1950, the first Knesset (Israeli parliament) proclaimed that Jerusalem was and had always been the Capital of Israel. Because of the status of Jerusalem had been included previously in the UN Partition Plan, most countries did not accept this Israeli position and all embassies have been located in Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem is defined as the spiritual and political center of the Jews. According to the Bible, King David established the city as its capital after conquering the place from the Jebusites 3000 years ago and his son King Solomon commissioned the building of the First Temple in Jerusalem. Jews lived in Jerusalem for about 1600 years before the birth of Islam. Putting it bluntly, the Jews lived in Jerusalem when Islam's forefathers were still pagan nomads in the Arabian Peninsula. So, what gives the Muslims of today the right to oppose Jerusalem being recognized as the capital of the Jewish state.

Furthermore, since the unification of Jerusalem in 1967 after the Six Day war, religious freedom has been guaranteed to all. For the past 50 years, since Israeli liberated Jerusalem from Arab (Jordan) occupation, it is open-city to Jews, Christians, Muslims and other religions. Throughout 19 years (1948-1967) of occupation of eastern sector of Jerusalem by Jordan, Jews were denied access to the Western Wall, the only remnant of the Holy Temple and holiest site of Judaism.

Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claims the city's eastern sector captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day war as the capital of a future independent state. These rival claims lie at the heart of the decades long Israel-Palestine conflict. Israel annexation of eastern Jerusalem is not internationally recognized and the international community says that the final status of eastern Jerusalem should be resolve through negotiations.

The US Senate on June 5, 2017, unanimously passed a resolution commemorating 50th anniversary of reunification of Jerusalem by 90-0. The resolution reaffirmed the Jerusalem Embassy Act and called upon the President and the United States officials to abide by its provisions.

President Trump announcement marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. He said that he had judged this course of action to be the best interests of the US and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He further said that in making this announcement his strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement and would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides. The United States are not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involve, he said.

The historic announcement prompted praise in Israel and will be popular with pro-Israel evangelical Christian voters in the US who make up a key part of Trump's base. But an almost universal international backlash, as allies and foes alike, denounced his decision and voiced concerns of new bloodshed in the Middle East.

On the ground reality, very little will affect in the form of wild protest as more will be on the diplomatic and political wrangle. Mr. Trump has directed the State Department to begin preparation to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem, but it is expected to take a few years because there is actually no site or design for the building. Of course, the declaration will spark violence in minor form but will not derail a new developing US's Mideast peace plan under President Donald Trump. Rather it will boost the tempo of peace process in a more vibrant and realistic approach.

As President Trump said, "We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past. All challenges demand new approaches". So, I enthusiastically commend President Trump for his courageous and heroic historic decision.


* John Phaltual wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be reached at yochananyy(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on December 09, 2017.



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