Chaos: Trump Will Ignite a Powder Keg in the Middle East
By Ramzy Baroud
who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
inaugurated US President Donald Trump is about to do
just that, reversing an historical course that has been
in the making for one hundred years.
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.
foreign policy has been centered mostly on military
power, rarely historical fact.
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
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
for the Wise
A century ago,
British forces under the command of General Sir Edmund
Allenby occupied the Palestinian Arab city of Jerusalem.
event in December 1917, has disturbed the cultural and
political equilibrium that existed in Palestine for
nearly a millennia.
initiated a war that has proved the longest and one of
the most bloody and destabilizing in modern human
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 people.
understanding was always present, even when France and
Britain signed the
Sykes-Picot agreement in May 1916, dividing Ottoman
territories amongst themselves, Jerusalem’s status was
designated as an international area due to its shared
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.
envisaged Palestinian state never actualized (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 1949.
It was then
that biblical mythology was remolded to fit political
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.
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.
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
Palestinians 2000 years ago.
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 Israel.
In 1967, Israel
occupied the rest of historic Palestine, including
Palestinian East Jerusalem, annexing the city in 1980.
international community has
continually rejected and condemned the Israeli
occupation, with repeated emphasis on Jerusalem.
around the world, even those who are considered allies
of Israel, including the United States reject Israeli
sovereignty over Jerusalem, and refuse Israeli
invitation to relocate their embassies from Tel Aviv to
the illegally-occupied city.
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 equally pro-Israel, but slightly more
pragmatic White House.
1995, the US Congress passed the
Jerusalem Embassy Act. The act 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.
administration at the time protested the violation of
protocol as such a decision is the responsibility of the
executive branch, not lawmakers beholden to Israel’s
influential lobby in Washington.
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 likely terrible consequences
included political instability and violence.
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.
last time the waiver was signed by former President
Obama was on December 1, 2016.
China Shop Foreign Policy
campaign for the White House, Trump made numerous,
wholesale, often contradictory promises. While initially
pledged to keep a similar distance between
Palestinians and Israel, he later reversed his position,
to adopt that of Israel’s rightwing government.
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
now reached the point where envoys from one country to
the other could almost switch places,” wrote Palestinian
Rashid Khalidi, in the New
He 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
right is almost in a state of political euphoria. Not
only the superfluous references to a ‘peace process’ and
a Palestinian state is over, but
they now have a free hand to build illegal Jewish
settlements (colonies) in occupied Jerusalem unhindered.
New bills are
springing in the Israeli Knesset to annex even the
Jewish settlements rendered illegal by Israel’s own
to remove any restriction on new settlement
construction and expansion.
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
What You Wish For
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
Ayrault warned Trump from the “very serious
consequences” that await in case the US embassy is in
fact moved to Jerusalem.
The 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.
should be the least of anyone’s concern, since both the
‘peace process’ and the ‘two-state solution’ charade
have been largely an
American investment to maintain US leadership, power
and influence over the conflict in Palestine.
The 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 in 1991 and ending with the pitiful Paris
conference on January 15.
failures notwithstanding, the Trump administration
gamble in moving the US embassy is likely to ignite a
political fire throughout Palestine and the Middle East
with horrific and irreversible outcomes.
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.
officials and religious figures alike condemned the US
decision. A top Palestinian official referred to it as a
declaration of war on Muslims.
significance of Jerusalem to Palestinian Muslims and
Christians, and hundreds of millions of believers around
the world, Donald Trump might indeed be igniting a
powder keg that would further derail his already
While some in
the mainstream western media are already predicting
‘a fresh wave of Palestinian violence’ shall the
embassy be relocated, the new US administration must
think carefully before embarking on such
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
over 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: Gaza’s Untold Story”. His website is
expressed in this article are solely those of the author
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of
Information Clearing House.