President Trump has announced that he intends on moving the US Israeli embassy mission from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem within a 6 month window, as well as stating the bold recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This unprecedented act was widely denounced by most heads of state except of course, the Israeli government. Presently, almost every country having diplomatic relations with Israel has its mission located in Tel Aviv. Trump has just departed from that, making a big gamble for a shot at resolving the long-simmering Israel-Palestine conflict. But already with the way things are unfolding, hopes of a resolution are far off.
A brief primer on the Arab-Israeli conflict
This is a very long, heated and complicated conflict, so this summary in no way does adequate justice, however I cannot really cover everything, as that would probably take an entire book. In brief, the last major change that often crops up as a common reference under most attempted peace agreements, was the 6-Day war in 1967, when Israel defeated the Arabs. Israel ended up seizing the Sinai from Egypt, East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. Since then, the Sinai was handed back to Egypt under a peace accord in 1979, while the Golan Heights and the West Bank (also known as Judea and Samaria to Israel), have remained largely under Israeli occupation. Most attempts at resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict since then have frequently made references to pre-67 borders, when the political makeup of Israel and Palestine was much closer to the original 1947 UN partition plan, Resolution 181. The reason why it is not exact is because the original partition plan changed after the war of 1948, when Arabs declared war on Israel the day after it declared independence. Israel won that war and seized more land than it was originally bequeathed with by the UN.
Right of Return
Palestinians who were expelled and/or fled from Israel during the 1948 war, which at that time were over 700,000, have since settled and lingered around in large refugee camps across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria as well as the West Bank and Gaza. Today they number in the millions, somewhere between 4-5 million. The right of return is a demand that stipulates the right for these refugees to return to Israel. Israel firmly opposes this for obvious reasons; that it will shift its demographics in favour of Arabs.
Status of Jerusalem
Both sides claim Jerusalem as their capital, with West Jerusalem known as the Israeli half, and East Jerusalem known as the Arab half. The UN has declared Jerusalem an international city, due to its importance to both Israeli and Arab, as well as Christian, Jew and Muslim alike. The Russian Eastern Orthodox Church, Vatican and Muslim Waqf all own historical properties in Jerusalem and oversee various holy monuments, thus cementing the notion of its international status.
With the Palestinian Authority split between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in Ramallah (West Bank), Fatah has recognised Israel’s right to exist in the early 1990s before the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. However, Fatah doesn’t recognise Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Hamas does not recognise Israel’s right to exist in any form, while Israel demands that it does. As such, Gaza is under intensive Israeli aerial, maritime and land blockade, while the West Bank has very limited freedom of movement, with a limited amount of Palestinian security forces allowed to police an inner zone of security checkpoints within an outer zone of Israeli security check-points. Israel insists on a demilitarised Palestinian authority under any agreement. The PA will likely insist on a wider police force and a border force, but anything beyond that will be deemed a big threat to Israel. Israel has constructed an infamous concrete wall – the “security barrier”, around the Palestinian territories, which has stopped suicide bombings from Intifadas, but has also become a symbol of oppression. The greatest threat it now faces is from rocket attacks outside of Israel, and lone wolf attacks within Israel. The Palestinians have virtually no security forces and remain vulnerable to heavy-handed IDF forces.
Borders and Settlements
This is a major sticking point because the Israeli government is actively pursuing a demographic shift in its favour by way of building up Jewish settlements illegally in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and evicting Palestinians around Jerusalem and the West Bank. Many see this as a way of Judaizing parts of Palestinian territories. The IDF is well known to do nothing against illegal settlers harassing Palestinians. The expansion of settlements is Israeli opportunism in the face of a disunited Palestinian Authority.
The construction of the “security barrier” has also resulted in Israel absorbing about 10% of Palestinian land in the West Bank. As such, the PA is demanding pre-67 borders, which remains a hotly contentious issue.
These are the major issues. Now let’s analyse Trump’s actions in this context.
US standing as mediator is permanently tarnished
Trump in my opinion has taken too much of a pro-Israel stance, and has discredited America’s standing as a mediator to the conflict. It will make America’s standing fall even lower in the Arab world, especially amidst the backdrop of the last two decades of rogue US imperialism in the Middle East, causing untold carnage by way of regime change, overt meddling in the Sunni-Shia war, as well as state-sponsored terrorism. Quite frankly, US mediation efforts can no longer be taken seriously. By taking a non-nuanced approach and recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel while making no mention of its importance to Palestinians and Muslims, is a wrong move in my opinion. This stance is crudely incompatible with advancing a 2-state solution. It comes off as advancing only a 1 state solution – a Jewish state. Trump has made a very radical move even by US standards, with no previous US administration daring to make such a declaration. European politicians have condemned this move. Thus the status of Jerusalem as a key issue to the Arab-Israeli conflict is now tainted by this overly pro-Israel stance. Jared Kushner is clearly working for the Zionist agenda, and Trump has come off as too much of a Zionist puppet.
The background eschatology
I believe that the ground-work for making this declaration was laid long ago by the pro-Zionist Neocons. Their wars and destabilisation efforts across the Muslim world served to ultimately soften up the Muslim world with infighting, and bog it down with war and hatred, allowing the Zionists to further their agenda in Israel while the Islamic world remains divided. US foreign policy is driven by an unholy alliance between Right-wing Zionist Christian Evangelicals and Jewish Zionists, represented by dual US-Israeli citizens working inside America to promote an Israel-first agenda. This alliance of convenience aims to crush Muslim opposition within Israel, whereby Evangelicals believe that Israel must only be a Jewish state, as a pre-condition for the second coming of Christ. The Jews on the other hand, are ultimately aiming to re-build their third temple, which will necessarily mean the destruction of the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, both very holy sites in Islam. This is a religious showdown of potentially apocalyptic proportions. Sadly, it is self-fulfilling and delusional. The religion factor is the end game in Jerusalem. Eschatology means the end-times, – a hallmark of all Abrahamic religions, converging onto Israel.
The Russia factor
Russia has actually quietly recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital back in April 2017, but also East Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian state. However, it has still not yet moved its embassy to Jerusalem. Thus Putin has already laid the groundwork for a more balanced position in potential mediation. Russia could theoretically respond in kind to balance out the situation by opening its embassy in East Jerusalem, thus giving the Palestinian cause some hope. What could follow after that is a rush of various nations around the world to open their diplomatic missions in either West or East Jerusalem, legitimising the city as internationally important. This would be a risky move by Putin, but it nevertheless is possible. It would also help Trump save some face, while calming down a potentially explosive situation. Appetite for Russian counter-balance will be widespread across the Arab world, especially after its decisive show of force in Syria.
Potential split with Arab allies
After the 1973 Yom Kippur war, Arab states unified to bring the West to its knees by a devastating oil embargo. This was in response to Western support of Israel in the war. It was such a profound display of power, that it birthed the Petro-dollar agreement, where America neutered the Arab oil weapon by invoicing its sale in US dollars in exchange for security guarantees to Arab puppet states. As such, this move by Trump risks alienating Arab allies, especially puppet states in the Gulf, who are already seen as too close to Israel and America by their people. This could well place them in a very awkward place, where they are seen as pro-Zionist, forcing them to distance themselves from the US and Israel in the process. Trump could very well end up uniting the Muslim world with this move against America and Israel, losing more allies in the process, and undoing decades of CIA-Mossad plots aimed at exactly the opposite – sowing discord across the Muslim world. Lets also not forget that it could also prompt Saudi Arabia, if angered enough, to drop the Petro-dollar for the Petro-Yuan and discount any possibility of an Aramco listing on the New York stock exchange. This is unlikely, however, since the House of Saud is a US puppet state, just like Jordan and Egypt. Which raises a possible suspicion here; could Jared Kushner have convinced a naive Mohammed bin Salman to embroil himself with a family feud as to weaken the Saudis just before the Jerusalem announcement? We do not know at this stage, but its possible that the Evangelical-Zionist alliance are positioning themselves for the kill so to speak, in Israel.
But it could tremendously backfire, as already there are mass protests planned. Vladimir Putin will be watching closely how this affects America’s standing in the Muslim world, and could seize the opportunity to once again, come to the rescue, where America failed once again. The fact that this was timed right before Christmas shows that the move was done with Evangelical-Zionist intent.