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TRUMP'S JERUSALEM ANNOUNCEMENT PULLS OUT RUG FROM UNDER PALESTINIAN STRATEGY

US President Trump making historic speech about Jerusalem being capital of Israel

It is not just America's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, important as that may be. And what is more natural and just than recognizing the 'City of David' which was founded over three thousand years ago, long before Washington, Moscow, London, Paris, or even Ottawa existed? Its very name, Jerusalem, is derived from the Hebrew language and spoken by Israelis today.

The fact is that President Trump's historic decision has bankrupt the long-standing policy of the Palestinian 'peace camp'. And this is why: the Palestinians have long been divided, since the Arabs lost their 1967 war against Israel, on how to force Israel back to the old 'Green' cease-fire line of 1967 without recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

Such recognition would mean, as Egypt's President Anwar Sadat and Jordan's King put it:

'No more war with Israel! End of conflict and no future demands after an Israeli withdrawal'.

 'No more war with Israel! End of conflict and no future demands after an Israeli withdrawal'.

The very idea of a Jewish state is anathema to the vast majority of Palestinians in and out of the West Bank Gaza and the refugee camps abroad.

On one hand, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the terror organizations contend that the only solution is to simply wipe out Israel and that it has no right to exist – 'no ifs, ands, or buts'. They are backed to the hilt by Iran, which entertains similar aspirations. They call it the armed struggle: first weaken Israel by driving it back to the old cease-fire lines of 1967, leaving it with a territorial depth of nine or ten miles in some places. And then stage two – after Israel is weakened strategically, deliver the final blow in the future. Anyone who has any doubts can simply look up the Palestinian covenant that spells it out.

On the other hand, the Palestinian 'peaceniks' have argued that Israel, with America's backing, is too strong, and the armed struggle will never defeat Israel on the battlefield. First Yasser Arafat, and then current leader Mahmoud Abbas, opted for a massive international campaign at the UN and organizations such as UNESCO to coalesce a diplomatic juggernaut to delegitimize and boycott Israel with the ultimate goal of galvanizing an imposed settlement that would force Israel back to the 1967 lines. But Allah forbid! No recognition of Israel as a legitimate Jewish state. Instead of a war of terror, smarter to carry on a diplomatic war at the UN, UNESCO, BDS, wherever.

In fact, at Camp David in 2000, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat to partition Jerusalem into two parts – Jewish part for the Jews and Arab part for the Palestinians. Sound reasonable? However, Arafat backed off, telling American interlocutors that he would be assassinated if he returned home after accepting such a deal that accepted part of Jerusalem as Jewish, and Israel as the Jewish state.

Now, lo and behold! President Trump has done just that – If he has recognized a Jewish capital, it follows that the state of this capital must also be Jewish. (As a matter of fact, Trump stressed that America's recognition did not include the Palestinian part of the city. This leaves the door open for the Palestinians to establish their own capital one day if they are ready to accept the Jewish state and negotiate a peace treaty as have Egypt and Jordan.

Palestinian President Abbas speaking at the UN

Move back to Arafat - Camp David, 2000: Arafat went home to launch Intifada II. After Arafat's death, enters the moderate President Mahmoud Abbas, champion of the two-state solution. Only one pertinent problem - one state would, of course, be Palestinian, and the other would go to the Jews. In other words, although there would be one totally Arab Palestine, he rejected the idea of a Jewish Israel. Listen to his explanation: 

 'Judaism is a religion and religions are not entitled to national self-determination.' 
'Judaism is a religion and religions are not entitled to national self-determination.'

His sidekick, Dr. Saed Erekat, who speaks impeccable English put it more simply:

 'Never in a thousand years will we recognize a Jewish state!' 

So, if President Trump, leader of the most powerful nation in the world, declares Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, it follows that Israel is a Jewish state! And, as both Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have made clear – this recognition 'simply reflects the reality on the ground. Israel is a Jewish state and will be accepted as such in any future peace negotiations. End of story. The leader of the free world rejects any notion of delegitimizing the Jewish state and will not allow the Palestinians or anyone else to steamroller Israel at the UN, UNESCO or anywhere else. 

So, the Palestinians are on the rampage – they reject any further American peace-making efforts such as a peace plan to be presented in a couple of months. They also refuse to meet Vice President Mike Pence who is to arrive in another week or so. And again the Palestinians are rioting, Israeli troops are firing tear gas with the focus on the Al Aksa mosque in East Jerusalem. Will it turn into another intifada, who can say? It's possible. Israel will take it in stride.

So what else is new, with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah again issuing threats from South Lebanon with his arsenals of rockets, and Iranian forces in Syria are trying to push closer to the Israeli border on the Golan Heights.

Naturally, Israeli leaders from Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu on down have praised Trump to high heaven. Opposition leaders joined the chorus while also urging Bibi to make some sort of conciliatory step toward the fired up Palestinians. Washington quietly asked Israel to cool the rhetoric. But after Trump's bombshell, Bibi will think at least twice before he announces any new settlement building without first getting an all-clear from the White House. 

Shiite Iran, of course, hit the roof, but their Sunni Arab rivals were critical and called an emergency meeting of the Arab League. But, all in all, the Sunni Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States are more worried about Iran than anything else. But they have their 'Arab Street' to consider, and at the very least must go through the motions of bashing Israel, even as they perceive the Jewish state as a potent partner in confronting Iran. Tehran is on the ascendancy with a military presence in Syria and a bonanza for its economy, thanks to former US President Barak Obama and the nuclear deal.
...the Sunni Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States are more worried about Iran than anything else.

On the ground, terrorists in Gaza tried to launch two rockets into Israel. Although they fell short and landed inside Gaza, this cut no ice with the IDF – it responded with several retaliatory strikes – zero tolerance is the policy also on the Golan Heights opposite the Iranians, and this includes another apparent Israeli air strike in that arena. 

By the way, the Israeli Air Force has announced that its first squadron of advanced F-35 fighter-bombers is now operational. Israel is the first country outside the US to have this new capability. And another first in the IDF – the first batch of female recruits has been trained to operate tanks in the armored corps. However, they will apparently be stationed on Israel's only quiet border, with Jordan. 

 

Political Analyst David Essing

 

David Essing

 

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