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Trump in Jerusalem: Peace-maker or hell-raiser? Open in fullscreen

Ali Kazak

Trump in Jerusalem: Peace-maker or hell-raiser?

The US Embassy building in Tel Aviv, that Trump plans to move to Jerusalem [AFP]

Date of publication: 31 January, 2017

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Comment: In moving the US embassy to West Jerusalem, Trump could gain the admiration and support of all countries and peoples of the world, writes former Palestinian Ambassador, Ali Kazak.

US President Donald Trump now has an opportunity to turn his promise to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem from a catastrophe, into a historic decision in line with previous world leaders.

Rather than fanning the flames of hatred, hostility, local and international instability and wars, by carrying out the move, he has the chance to set in motion the resumption of negotiations to solve the Palestine question and achieve a just peace, if he employs wisdom to make the right decision.

Trump has proven that he is not a traditional politician; he came from outside the box and takes decisions outside it as well. He is not known to have a broad knowledge of the Palestine question in general, or the sensitive issue of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees in particular.

He has surrounded himself, as the Jerusalem Post newspaper revealed, with eleven appointed Zionist Jews in his administration who serve Israel's interests first. His reliance on the advice of extremist Jewish Zionists is worrying and will lead to a disaster no one would be able to predict or escape from if he remains hostage to their advice.

But making promises to serve electoral interests is one thing, and taking fateful decisions that conflict with the interests of the United States, international law, the resolutions of the international community and the interests of dozens of countries and peoples, is quite another. The United States does not live in this world alone.

Is the US willing to hit the last nail in the coffin of its relations with the Arab and Muslim world?

Previous US presidents have been fully aware of the dangerous and devastating consequences of moving the embassy to Jerusalem. This would cause serious damage not only to the interests of the US, its international standing and relations with the Arab and Islamic countries, but would also constitute a grave violation of international law, contradict dozens of UN resolutions, and destabilise local and international security and stability.

Trump says he wants to "Make America great again" and that all his decisions will be guided by America's national interest. He was against the war in Iraq because it was going to destabilise the Middle East ...; but isn't he aware that to move the embassy to Jerusalem and recognise it as of the capital of Israel would starkly contradict his stated goals?

  Read More: UK backs Trump's vision for Palestine

Doesn't he realise this decision is against US interests with 57 Arab and Islamic countries, representing more than one billion people and 600 million Muslims, making up a quarter of the world's population? That it would destabilise the Middle East, causing tremors, violence and reactions across the world which no one can predict, and which will create generations of revulsion and extremism against US interests?

Is the US willing to hit the last nail in the coffin of its relations with the Arab and Muslim world? And how does this serve its national interests?

Trump could announce that the United States will transfer its embassy to West Jerusalem, while recognising the State of Palestine

At the conclusion of its 12th meeting in the Malian capital Bamako on 28 January 2017, the Council of Parliamentary Union member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation affirmed that the question of Palestine and Jerusalem is the core issue that must be supported and defended for the achievement of the legitimate and inalienable rights of the return of refugees, freedom from occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital Jerusalem.

They rejected moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and warned that Jerusalem is a red line that cannot be bypassed as it represents the spiritual capital of the Islamic nation.

  Read More: Trump's embassy move is a gift to extremists

Jerusalem is the historic capital of Palestine. Palestinian Canaanites built and inhabited the city around 2500 BC, more than 600 years before the Jews set foot in the land of Palestine. Throughout history it has been the Palestinians' spiritual, cultural and commercial capital, and it holds their Islamic and Christian holy places.

The United States will bear responsibility for the consequences of its decision which encourages the Israeli government and Jewish extremists, and gives them the green light to escalate the Judaisation of Jerusalem, their aggression against Al-Aqsa Mosque and the building of more settlements.

Former Israeli Interior Minister Uzi Baram said in an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on 25th January 2017, "the current government's religious right-wing is relying on the role of US President Donald Trump to help destroy the Dome of the Aqsa Mosque. The religious right believes that the Mosque's presence is hindering the fulfilment of Jewish salvation represented by the construction of the Third Temple."

A decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognition of it as Israel's capital will never be accepted by the Arab and Muslim people

Once Trump made his presidential oath and entered the White House, the Local Committee for Planning and Building of the Jerusalem municipality immediately approved the building of 671 units for "Jewish only" settlers beyond the Green Line in East Jerusalem. It announced it would ratify the construction of 11,000 additional housing settler units around Jerusalem, and Netanyahu and his defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, approved the building of 2,500 new housing units in the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories.

In his comments, the official spokesman of the White House emphasised the president's encouragement of Israel's extremism by not condemning this aggression, saying that "President Trump will discuss this issue during his expected meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu next month", and confirmed that Israel is an important friend to the United States and that it will work for "Israel to be treated with respect in the Middle East."!

The US's disregard and disrespect for Arabs and their governments has got to the stage where it boldly asks them to "show respect for Israel" for its occupation, aggression, crimes and racial discrimination against them!

The state of weakness, division and wars raging across the Arab world should not blind Trump and the US administration's insight on the entrenched feelings and unity among the Arab and Muslim people on the Palestine question.

It is time the United States, as a superpower, deals credibly and responsibly with the Arab-Israeli conflict

A decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognition of it as Israel's capital will never be accepted by the Arab and Muslim people, will fuel the flames of their anger and will have catastrophic repercussions for the US, Israel and all complicit regimes. It will enter the region into a new phase and new alliances.

Alternatively, Trump could turn his promise to move the embassy into an historic decision which would gain the admiration and support of all countries and peoples of the world - including the vast majority of Americans and Israelis - and achieve peace in the Middle East at the same time.

He could announce that the United States will transfer its embassy to West Jerusalem, while recognising the State of Palestine, in accordance with the historic US position - and at the same time elevate the status of the US Consulate in East Jerusalem to the level of an embassy. He could then invite Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to Washington to resume peace negotiations.

With this decision Trump would have carried out his promise, and it would be difficult for Israel and its loyalists to oppose the move without appearing hypocritical, gaining the resentment of the world and showing their true face of rejectionism to international resolutions and the achievement of peace.

It is time the United States, as a superpower, deals credibly and responsibly with the Arab-Israeli conflict, and adopts a policy based on justice, international law and the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people in their homeland. Trump can do that if he wants; he has a margin of courage and independence. By doing so, he will regain some of the respect the United States has lost around the world.

Ali Kazak is a former Palestinian ambassador. He is an expert in Australian-Arab relations and affairs. He is Managing Director of Southern Link International, MD of Palestine Publications (not for profit) and author of "Australia and the Arabs" (in Arabic).

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff. 

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