The announcement by US President Donald Trump on Wednesday recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel had major ramifications and reactions that are worth mentioning here for an analysis of the days ahead. I believe there are two main issues. The first is that the US president has a predetermined agenda as per his election promises. We Arabs do not have a specific agenda. Also, we are facing many internal and external problems and challenges, such as intellectual extremism and many others, so the Palestinian case is one issue in a long list.
The US announcement confirmed one of the most serious fears of the Palestinians, who are living in occupied territories and still have hope to reach a just solution for their cause after more than 50 years to end their daily suffering in dealing with the Israeli occupation and managing their lives, needs and security. The declaration came as a hard and cruel shock to them.
The US side probably saw this as an act of courage, because no former president dared to make such an announcement. Well, he is right, because there was never a US president who openly fired his employees and declared tough views on Twitter. I think he’s right. The world has never witnessed a president like Trump. As for the Arabs who are busy with their internal issues, yes, the declaration is regrettable and unfortunate, but it’s a fact of life and they have to deal with it. I think condemning and perhaps submitting a protest note to the UN Security Council is predictable.
World leaders have differing views on the matter, starting with UN Security Council delegates who criticized Washington’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. They still consider East Jerusalem an occupied territory, stressing that the status of the city should only be decided through negotiations.
The European attitude was frank and straightforward, especially the French position. The French president said in a press conference that Europe is committed to the two-state solution – Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security within internationally recognized borders and with Jerusalem as the capital of the two countries. France’s permanent representative to the United Nations said “we do not recognize the sovereignty of anyone over occupied East Jerusalem”.
The Gulf countries’ position was presented clearly by Saudi Arabia, which said in an official statement that this step is unjustified and will not alter or prejudice the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem. But this is a major setback in efforts to push forward with the peace process, and will complicate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I guess this statement summarizes the Gulf’s stance.
I believe that the even if the American decision came after planning, coordination and consultation before the official announcement, it could lead to a new wave of violence in the Middle East. Terrorist groups may try to benefit from it by more violence and murderous acts, using this statement as a pretext to kill more innocent people. This is indeed frightening, but must be taken into account, especially since extremist movements often raise the banner of the Palestinian cause to denounce ruling regimes.
Undoubtedly, the US decision provoked several angry reactions from Arab and Islamic countries, as the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation called for emergency meetings to discuss appropriate responses, especially as the declaration destroys the hope of a two-state solution and the eliminates the peace process. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Trump’s decision represents a declaration that the United States will withdraw from the peace process.
I agree that the decision of the US administration to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel hinders all initiatives and negotiations in the peace process, complicates the Palestinian-Israeli issue and creates great embarrassment for the major allies of America in the Middle East, especially those who depend on American aid. I believe there is now an urgent need to convene an urgent international conference to support the demands of the Palestinians and perhaps it is time to present a new peace plan under the auspices of Saudi Arabia, agreed upon by all parties, and taking into account the interests of all.
The US indeed has its interests in the Middle East, so maybe it is also time for the Arabs to submit a new plan to shape the ideas on how to handle this case for the sake of the Palestinians, who are now facing a tough situation.
By Muna Al-Fuzai