After holding our collective breath over the last couple of days, it emerged – without much fanfare from the American side – that Donald Trump has not quite refused to sign the waiver permitting the US to retain its embassy in Tel Aviv (the whole issue is terribly vague. Maybe the waters are being muddied on purpose) but he is going to make an announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Plus, he will be instructing the State Department to examine the practicalities of moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump will announce in a speech on Wednesday that he is formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while asking the State Department to formulate a plan for moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, White House officials confirmed Tuesday evening.
The recognition of Jerusalem, widely expected to anger the Arab world and cast a shadow over US-led peace efforts, will also be accompanied by Trump committing to support a two-state solution should both Israel and the Palestinians back it, the officials said, in a likely bid by the administration to balance the announcement seen as heavily favoring Israel.
Trump’s administration is certainly a reality-based one, as opposed to the Obama administration which was based on wishful thinking at best, and on an anti-Israel bias at worst:
The White House repeatedly referred to the recognition and embassy move, which will likely take years, as “acknowledging a reality,” noting the city’s role as the seat of Israel’s government but disregarding Palestinian claims there.
“He views this as a recognition of reality, both historic reality and modern reality,” one official said.
“While President Trump recognizes that the status of Jerusalem is a highly sensitive issue, he does not think it will be resolved by ignoring the truth that Jerusalem is home to Israel’s legislature, it’s Supreme Court, the Prime Minister’s residence, and as such, it is the capital of Israel,” one of the officials said.
The US now officially recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – and the world has gone into meltdown.
US officials warned Trump not to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The reason is less ideological, more capitulation to threats of violence from the Arabs:
If Trump made such a move, it could spark demonstrations or violence by Palestinians or by Muslims around the world, in part because of the sensitivity of the Jerusalem site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.
The site includes the al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam, and the golden Dome of the Rock. It was also the site of an ancient Jewish temple, the holiest place in Judaism.
The Arab threats of mayhem and violence (as any good mafiosi would do) came thick and fast, with clashes expected in Judea and Samaria after Friday prayers – or incitement – in the mosques.
But best of all was Turkey’s threat to cut ties with Jerusalem (or was that a promise?):
ANKARA – President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday Turkey could go as far as breaking off diplomatic ties with Israel if the United States formally recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move he said would be a “red line” for Muslims.
Erdogan is the latest in a string of regional leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Hussein to warn of negative implications of the move.
Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett was quick to respond.
“Unfortunately, Erdogan does not miss an opportunity to attack Israel. Israel must advance its goals, including the recognition of United Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel,” Bennett said in a statement. “There will always be those who criticize, but at the end of the day it is better to have a united Jerusalem than Erdogan’s sympathy.”
Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said that Israel “does not take directives or threats from Turkey.”
Israel is a “sovereign state, and Jerusalem is its capital,” Katz said. “There is nothing more historically just or right than to recognize Jerusalem, which has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years, as the capital of the State of Israel. The days of the Sultan and the Ottoman Empire are over.”
Caroline Glick cheekily tweeted:
The Europeans, in their own weaselly way, also warned against American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said on Tuesday that “any action that would undermine” peace efforts to create two separate states for the Israelis and the Palestinians “must absolutely be avoided”.
Palestinian President-for-life Mahmoud Abbas is leading the Arab charge against recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:
Trump is expected on Wednesday to declare US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to order the start of work to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, White House officials confirmed Tuesday. US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is legitimate, almost banal; the same goes for moving the embassy there. But the warnings coming from even moderate Arab states show how sensitive the Jerusalem issue is and how problematic it can be to deal with even for them.
But in the end, does any of this matter in the end? Will anything change on the ground for Israel and Jerusalem? (Besides the expected Palestinian violence of course).
Kay Wilson wrote an excellent post on Facebook, succinctly summarising the issue. I wish I wrote this myself:
Just like the UN acknowledged the right of the Jewish people to have a nation state in 1947, it will also be amazing if President Trump decides to recognize Jerusalem as the capital.
However, just like our own personal identity and self-worth can never be found in what other people think of us, or who they think we are, so it is with the people in power concerning Israel. Their decisions have no bearing on the fact that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish nation State. None whatsoever.
And should anyone doubt: in addition to the land, we have centuries of history, the only language ever to have been revived, 1000’s of archaeological artifacts of numerous Biblical remains, and ancient texts stretching back millennia.
Times of Israel reporter Haviv Rettig Gur also sums up the issue in an eloquent nutshell:
Here is a series of tweets demonstrating the absurdity of the situation until now, and the implications of American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:
Here is a witty but true observation about the Muslims’ attitude towards Jerusalem:
Let’s finish off on a positive note: