Jerusalem, why now?
In 1947 the U.N. recognized Tel Aviv as Israel’s official capital. All foreign embassies are located in this city.
In 1995 the U.S. Congress passed the “Jerusalem Embassy Act,” advising the U.S. President to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. In the 20 year-period preceding Donald Trump’s presidency, U.S. presidents ignored this advice, but on Dec. 6 Trump did the unthinkable. He made an official declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and initiated the process of relocating the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
Why has Trump decided to fulfill his campaign promise at this specific moment in time? I asked this question to a diplomat who knows the Israel-Palestine issue well. He stated many reasons but these two were the most important:
1. Trump has domestic politics troubles and wants to win over public opinion with a “foreign politics success story.” He hopes to achieve this by revitalizing Israel-Palestine peace talks and harnessing the support of the U.S. Jewish Lobby.
2. Recent developments in the Middle East have prevented countries from giving a concerted joint reaction to U.S. Trump could be aiming for a permanent result that benefits Israel while the other Middle Eastern countries fight among themselves.
If you analyze Trump’s statement, you can see sentences that aim to convince Palestine and the Islamic world. I have listed those sentences for you and provided my own analysis.
Sentence one: “We are closer to peace between Israel and Palestine than we have ever been before.”
This sentence gives the impression that the U.S. took this step in order to revive peace talks. By not providing a date for the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem, it allows some time for peace talks.
But it is actually a veiled threat to Palestine: “If you do not negotiate a permanent peace agreement, your loss will be great.”
In his statement, Trump stresses U.S. support for the “two-state solution.” Trump’s open discussion of the subject is an important win for Palestine. But its cost is also great because it effectively consolidates the actual situation on the ground, which came into effect after the 1967 war. In other words, Israel’s total control of Jerusalem.
In the statement, Trump emphasized his sensitivity to the subject of boundaries to Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, calling for the situation to be finalized through negotiation.
At first glance these expressions suggest that Jerusalem could be split into east and west. But Israel wants total control over the entire city. In the two state solution East Jerusalem would become Palestine’s capital.
Trump’s most important promise to Muslims was his declaration of U.S. support for the status of the al-Aqsa Mosque.
Trump, who could not provide Christians with a message regarding Jerusalem, had kept his promise as a U.S. president on the status of the al-Aqsa Mosque for the first time.
Recognition of the al-Aqsa Mosque will not mean anything to Palestinians without clarity on the status of East Jerusalem.
The diplomatic “bribes” mentioned in Trump’s statement were not even taken under consideration by the Turkish government. The statement was categorically declared as “invalid.”
The U.S.’s decision contravenes international law, and Ankara firmly believes that East Jerusalem must be the capital of Palestine in any “two-state solution.”
EU has not fully supported the U.S. Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Russia, which supports a “two-state solution,” is pushing for East Jerusalem to be recognized under a different status.
Russia is adopting a different stance, similar to its position in Syria, pulling China to one side, and postponing putting the U.S.’s decision into practice.
The Islamic countries are also about to provide a collective statement. The biggest task Turkish diplomacy faces is leading this cooperation.