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With his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the US president puts the region at risk. Both Israelis and Palestinians can be harmed, says Rainer Sollich.
Almost the entire world communicated its warning to the president of the United States, Donald Trump, not to carry out this decision. The choir included Palestinians, Arab countries, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and Pope Francis. Several voices from the Jewish and Israeli community, such as the Haaretz newspaper and the Jewish Central Council in Germany, also criticized the intention. But nobody could stop it.
Trump covered his ears. Despite all the warnings and fear of a possible violent reaction in the Middle East, the president carried out his electoral promise and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, also authorizing the move of his embassy in Tel Aviv to the city that Jews, Christians and Muslims consider to be “holy”.
A humiliation for the Palestinians
Trump’s decision represents a serious symbolic step that many Arabs and Muslims, inside and outside the Palestinian territories, will take as a humiliation and political defeat. The Jerusalem theme always elevates political and religious emotions in the region.
At the political level, the United States not only unnecessarily distances itself from an international consensus in Middle Eastern diplomacy, which has determined that the status of Jerusalem must be defined in a definitive peace agreement. Trump’s decision also automatically converts the US in the only country that provides legitimacy the Israeli annex of East Jerusalem, which is considered a violation of international law.
In this way, the US president considers the fact to be complete and shows the Palestinians themselves and the Arab world their degree of weakness and lack of power in the situation. The danger now is that demonstrations of hatred, outbreaks of violence, terrorism, demonstrations and break-up of political alliances or diplomatic relations may arise. The responsible, fully, of all this would be the president of the United States and his absurd and highly dangerous decision. Therefore, this step can not be justified. Trump is adding fuel to the fire in the conflict, in the most disproportionate and dangerous way.
A fait accompli
Trump will not back down in his decision, thus facing numerous protests. If an independent Palestinian state is established, it will not only have to find a new capital, but it will also have to grant much more. The US alliance and Israel is now so strong that the Palestinians and the Arab countries will not be able to cope with it.
The Arab countries also have their own priorities, despite being involved in the cause of their “Palestinian brothers.” Saudi Arabia, a great power in the region, had already warned the US not to pronounce unilaterally on the status of Jerusalem. But in the kingdom, the leadership is currently occupied with a struggle for internal power and with its growing geostrategic rivalry with Iran, for which Saudi Arabia depends a lot on Trump and Israel, with whom it does not have diplomatic relations but which is also Iran’s rival in the region.
A possible leadership of Saudi Arabia in the peace negotiations to the conflict has been proposed. But Trump’s decision puts an end to this idea. In addition, it is possible that the Saudi elite is as indifferent to the cause of the Palestinians as is Iran, which often takes advantage of the situation and a rivalry with Israel to fuel their own ambitions in the region.
Trump says that, with his decision, the United States it only seeks to recognize a reality and alleges that it is still committed to achieving peace in the Middle East. This pronouncement is full of cynicism and in the end, it will be only the Palestinians and the Israelis who will suffer the consequences of this act.