Trump decision drives final nail in coffin for peace

Analysts say that Washington could no longer purport to be an honest broker in peace negotiations

15:51 December 6, 2017
Palestinian protesters
Optional 2

Dubai: US President Donald Trump’s expected formal recognition of Occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday has sent shockwaves across the world.

The decision makes the US the first country in the world to do so.

Israel occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 war in a move never recognised by the international community.

Since then it has pursued systematic policies aiming to change facts on the ground and erase Muslim and Palestinian identity from the holy city–sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews alike—including the building of illegal Jewish colonies on Palestinian land in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Israel has long wanted Jerusalem as its capital but the Palestinian see it as the capital of their future promised state.

Trump was also expected to announce plans to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv, to Occupied Jerusalem, a move expected to take three years to fully implement.

Analysts say this is clear indication that the US is not and cannot be an honest broker in Arab-Israeli peace talks.

“This US president who said he is determined to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict is the same president who hammered the last nail in the coffin of the peace process,” Murhaf Jouejati, professor of International Relations at the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, told Gulf News.

Palestinians have long complained that the US is not an honest mediator in the conflict, pointing to the billions of dollars in aid and invoking the veto power to undermine UN Security Council resolutions critical of Israel.

“US declaration on Jerusalem is basically taking a position in favour of one party’s claim over another. This should just clarify to the few who still believe in US mediation that it is a joke and instead affirm need for BDS,” Yousef Mounayer, Executive Director at the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights said.

He was referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions grassroots movement aimed at censuring companies that do business in Israeli-occupied Palestine.

“ZERO countries have their embassies in Jerusalem. The one country that is about to change this, the US, is the so-called “mediator” between Israel and Palestine. Think about that,” Mounayer posted on Twitter.

He went on to predict that this decision would have further negative implications—particularly on Israel’s illegal colonies.

“The message that this sends is if Israel creates realities on the ground, by hook or by crook, the US will eventually recognise them.”

US embassies around the world have been advised by the state department to bolster their security.

US government employees have been told to avoid Occupied Jerusalem and the Occupied West Bank until further notice.

In making his decision, following through on an election campaign promise, Trump shrugged off appeals from leaders from France, the EU, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other key allies.

They urged him not to prejudge an issue that would be at the heart of any comprehensive deal.

On the eve of his announcement, Trump made a series of calls to leaders in the region, including Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egypt’s President Abdul Fatah Al Sissi, King Salman of Saudi Arabia, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, said the Palestinian leader had warned Trump of the dangers of such a decision to Middle East peace efforts as well as security and stability in the region and the world.

King Abdullah issued a statement telling Trump that such a decision would have “dangerous repercussions on the stability and security of the region” and would obstruct US efforts to resume Arab-Israeli peace talks.

King Salman was reported by the Saudi Press Agency to have told Trump: “Such a dangerous step is likely to inflame the passions of Muslims around the world due to the great status of Jerusalem and the Al Aqsa Mosque.”

The UAE also issued a similar warning on Tuesday.

Pope Francis called on Wednesday for the status quo of Occupied Jerusalem to be respected and for “wisdom and prudence” to prevail to avoid further conflict.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a summit of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC)—a pan-Islamic body—in Istanbul on December 13 to discuss the developments.

“Jerusalem is our honour, Jerusalem is our common cause, Jerusalem is our red line,” he added, urging the Trump administration to “return from this grave mistake immediately,” a spokesman for Erdogan said.

Turkey already said it would cut ties with Israel over the US decision.

Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in his role as presidential advisor, has been leading a diplomatic initiative aimed at concluding the comprehensive Middle East deal that has eluded previous admissions.

The White House insisted that Trump’s announcement would not derail that effort and that the Kushner initiative was making progress even though little had been heard about it.

“There are things happening that the people directly involved in the talks know about that people around the world don’t know about that will become known when the time is right,” a White House official said.

“That is one of the reasons that the president is still very optimistic.”