Trump’s Jerusalem move an assault on peace

Trump's Jerusalem move rekindled a century-old problem in the Middle East and created an environment that will fuel anti-Americanism in the region and Islamophobia in the U.S.

U.S. President Donald Trump ignored warnings from around the world and U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 478 to announce that his administration would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Recalling that his predecessors had prevented the implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, he talked about courage and “a new approach.” Trump also claimed that his decision would “advance the peace process” and contribute to the two-state solution, as if he was mocking the entire world. However, it is clear that a unilateral decision by Washington cannot change the fact that East Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.

First and foremost, Trump’s decision has no international legitimacy. By appearing in front of the cameras on Wednesday, he not only took a step that will further deepen his isolation on the world stage, but also lost his supposedly neutral position in the peace process. Unsurprisingly, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Jerusalem’s status is an issue that Israel and Palestine have to resolve through direct talks. However, it is crucial for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which will hold an emergency meeting in Istanbul next week, to send a strong message to the United States and Israel in order to ensure that the reactions from Europe and Russia can be translated into a long-term commitment. As such, it is necessary to mobilize the international community against the Israeli occupation and unjust approach of the U.S.

At this rate, Trump will likely go down in history as the U.S. president who undermined international institutions and multilateral agreements. By looking out for Israeli interests in the dispute over Jerusalem’s status, he eliminated all hope for peace. Under the circumstances, there is no international authority that could possibly convince the Israelis to engage in a new round of talks. Needless to say, Trump, whose political future remains unclear, certainly does not have that kind of resolve or power.

Trump likes to say that the old ways are unable to yield results, but he clearly does not want to solve any problem that he engages. Quite the contrary, he seems to think that reviving old crises and starting new fires are good ways to protect U.S. interests. In doing so, he reminds everyone of businesspeople who think that they can survive market instability by having more cash than everyone else.

Sadly, Washington uses its military and political presence to stir chaos rather than enforce a peaceful order. The United States does not care about the international community or heed the warnings of its allies. Moving forward, America will be known for playing a negative role in global politics.

At this point, the businessman in the White House has been so unsuccessful in his attempts to develop a coherent set of policies that he has become a source of instability and uncertainty in the world. As such, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was acting as a true ally when he reminded Trump that his job is “to make peace rather than stir chaos,” and warned him that he would be “wrong to assume that to be powerful means to be right.”

Trump’s Jerusalem move rekindled a century-old problem in the Middle East and created an environment that will fuel anti-Americanism in the region and Islamophobia in the U.S. Earlier this week, Hamas called for the annulment of the Oslo Accords and a new intifada. However, it remains to be seen where Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which have been looking to cooperate with Israel, stand on the issue at the upcoming OIC summit. At a time when regional media outlets accuse Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of betraying the Palestinian people, anything but a genuine reaction could deprive Saudi elites and others of their already diminishing legitimacy in the eyes of their people.

Meanwhile, it is almost certain that Russia and Iran stand to take advantage of the new wave of chaos in the Middle East. If the European Union takes a firm stand against Trump’s move, it will be perceived more positively in the Muslim world. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that a number of countries, not just the U.S., would move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. What great powers like the EU, Russia and China will do is going to be particularly important. Of course, the Israelis, who had stepped up efforts to build new settlements since 2011, seem happy with the chaos Trump has created. Ironically, Israel will never be able to feel secure in the region, provided that there can be no Palestine without East Jerusalem. The city’s status is not just important for Palestinians and other Arabs. Today, all of humanity is on the verge of calling Trump’s move as they see it – an assault on peace.

[Daily Sabah, 12 December 2017]

In this article