Embassy Move to Jerusalem 'Self-destructive'
Trump's gamble in moving the US embassy to Jerusalem
will have horrific and irreversible outcomes.
- Newly inaugurated US President Donald Trump is
about to reverse an historical course that has been in
the making for 100 years.
The inexperienced, demagogic politician hardly
understands the danger that lies in his decision to move
the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. If he
goes through with this, he is likely to unleash an
episode of chaos in an already volatile region.
The move, which is now reportedly in the "beginning
stages", is not a mere symbolic one, as some naively
reported in Western mainstream media. True, American
foreign policy has been centred mostly on military
power, rarely historical fact.
But Trump, known for his thoughtlessness and
impulsive nature, is threatening to eradicate even the
little common sense that governed US foreign policy
conduct in the Middle East.
If the new president moves forward with his plan,
unsympathetic to Palestinian pleas and international
warnings, he is likely to regret the unanticipated
consequences of his action.
A century ago, British forces under the command of
General Sir Edmund Allenby occupied the Palestinian Arab
city of Jerusalem. That ominous event in December 1917
disturbed the cultural and political equilibrium that
existed in Palestine for nearly a millennium.
Throughout his campaign for the White
House, Trump made numerous, wholesale, often
contradictory promises. While initially he
pledged to keep a similar distance between
Palestinians and Israel, he later reversed
his position, adopting that of Israel's
It also initiated a war that has proved the longest
and one of the most bloody and destabilising in modern
human history. Although Palestine was wrestled from the
hand of its governing bodies operating under the
auspices of the Ottoman Empire, its new British rulers
understood the unequalled importance of Jerusalem to its
That understanding was always present, even when
France and Britain signed the
Sykes-Picot agreement in May 1916, dividing Ottoman
territories among themselves, Jerusalem's status was
designated as an international area owing to its shared
The same emphasis regarding the neutrality of
Jerusalem was made time and again, including in the
League of Nations' decision in 1922 to give Britain a
political mandate over Palestine, and the United Nations
resolution to divide Palestine into two countries, one
Arab and one Jewish, in November 1947.
While that envisaged Palestinian state never
actualised (thanks to numerous obstacles placed by the
US and Israel), Israel became a reality in May 1948.
Mere months after an armistice agreement was reached,
Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital in December
It was then that biblical mythology was remoulded to
fit political exigencies.
Israel's first Parliament (Knesset)
declared in January 1950 that "Jerusalem was, and
had always been the capital of Israel". The "was" and
"always been" are references to a twisted interpretation
of history that has no place in modern international
law, of which Israel is never a follower to begin with.
After 1,500 years of Canaanite rule over Palestine,
the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean
Sea fell under the rule of numerous invaders, including
the Philistines, the Israelites, the Phoenicians, the
Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the
Macedonians, the Romans, the Arabs, the Crusaders, and
then it was ruled by various Islamic Caliphates from
1291 until the British mandate in 1922.
The Israelites' control barely lasted for 77 years
and it is largely
contested that Israeli Jews of today are even blood
relatives of the groups that inhabited Palestine 2,000
Yet, that was enough for the modern Israeli national
myth, which is now championed by the most right-wing,
religious extremists in both the United States and
In 1967, Israel occupied the rest of historic
Palestine, including Palestinian East Jerusalem,
annexing the city in 1980. The international community
rejected and condemned the Israeli occupation, with
repeated emphasis on Jerusalem.
Countries around the world, even those that are
considered allies of Israel, including the United
States, reject Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, and
refuse Israeli invitations to relocate their embassies
from Tel Aviv to the illegally occupied city.
The United States' attitude towards Jerusalem,
however, has been marred with contradictions. Since
1995, the US position has been divided between the
historically pro-Israel US Congress and the equally
pro-Israel but slightly more pragmatic White House.
In October 1995, the US Congress passed the
Jerusalem Embassy Act. The act was passed by an
overwhelming majority in both House and Senate. It
called Jerusalem the undivided capital of Israel and
urged the State Department to move the US Embassy from
Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The US administration at the time protested against
the violation of protocol as such a decision is the
responsibility of the executive branch, not politicians
beholden to Israel's influential lobby in Washington.
The other dilemma is that if the US walks away from
international consensus on the matter, it both loses the
little credibility it had as a "peace broker" and would
be left to contend with the terrible consequences that
are likely, including political instability and
It is true that Jerusalem has tremendous spiritual
significance for Muslims, Christians and Jews, but the
uninterrupted cultural and religious significance it had
for Palestinian Christians and Muslims alike makes it
unpatrolled as an economic, political and cultural hub
For many years, US administrations under Presidents
Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama have signed
a presidential waiver that deferred the Congressional
bill six months at a time.
Throughout his campaign for the White House, Trump made
numerous, wholesale, often contradictory promises. While
to keep a similar distancebetween
Palestinians and Israel, he later reversed his position,
adopting that of Israel's right-wing government.
the opportunistic real-estate mogul enters the White
House with an eerie agenda that looks identical to that
of the current Israeli government of right-wingers and
have now reached the point where envoys from one country
to the other could almost switch places," wrote
Khalidi, in theNew
wrote, "The Israeli Ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer,
who grew up in Florida, could just as easily be the US
Ambassador to Israel, while Donald Trump's
Ambassador-designate to Israel, David Friedman, who has
intimate ties to the Israeli settler movement, would
make a fine Ambassador in Washington for the pro-settler
government of Benjamin Netanyahu."
Israeli right is almost in a state of political
euphoria. Not only are the superfluous references to a
"peace process" and a Palestinian state over, butthey
also now have a free handto
build illegal Jewish settlements (colonies) in occupied
bills are springing in the Israeli Knesset to annex even
the Jewish settlements rendered illegal by Israelís own
remove any restrictionon
new settlement construction and expansion.
Trump administration has no qualms with that; to the
contrary, this falls squarely in the agenda of the new
rulers of the United States who now control the
legislative and executive branches.
The odd thing is that the US is about to violate the
very international consensus (as in US-led Western
consensus) regarding the conflict in Palestine. Speaking
to the Paris peace conference on January 15, French
Foreign Minister Jean-MarcAyrault
warned Trump against the
"very serious consequences" that await in case the US
embassy is in fact moved to Jerusalem.
French and other European countries are aware that such
a move would end the US-led "peace process" along with
the thus far futile quest for a two-state solution.
However, this should be the least of anyone's concerns,
since both the "peace process" and the "two-state
solution" charade have been largely anAmerican
maintain US leadership, power and influence over the
conflict in Palestine.
US, and its Western allies, certainly had the needed
clout and power to achieve a peaceful and just
resolution to the conflict, if that was indeed their
overriding priority. They failed to do so over the
course of 25 years, starting in the Madrid Talks of 1991
and ending with the pitiful Paris conference on January
American failures notwithstanding, the Trump
administration's gamble in moving the US embassy is
likely to ignite a political fire throughout Palestine
and the Middle East with horrific and irreversible
occupation: Israel and the media - The Listening Post
Palestinians and Arabs understand that moving the
embassy is far from being a symbolic move, but a carte
blanche to complete the Israeli takeover of the city,
including its holy sites, and complete the ethnic
cleansing of Palestinian Muslims and Christians.
will certainly and explicably lead to violence. Vital US
interests in the Middle East could and will also suffer
the consequences of such an imprudent move. Palestinian
officials and religious figures alike condemned the US
decision. A top Palestinian official referred to it as adeclaration
of war on Muslims.
significance of Jerusalem to Palestinian Muslims and
Christians, and hundreds of millions of believers around
the world, Trump might indeed be igniting a powder keg
that would further derail his already embattled
While some in the
mainstream Western media are already predicting"a
fresh wave of Palestinian violence"should
the embassy be relocated, the new US administration must
think carefully before embarking on such
Just because Trump
intends to reverse the legacy of his predecessor doesn't
mean the new American president should begin his legacy
by inviting more violence and pushing an already
volatile region further into the abyss.
Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for
more than 20 years. He is an internationally syndicated
columnist, a media consultant, an author of several
books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His
books include Searching Jenin, The Second Palestinian
Intifada and his latest, My Father Was a Freedom
Fighter: Gazaís Untold Story. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.
expressed in this article are solely those of the author
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