A chance to expose the world’s hypocrisy about Israel and peace.
Miriam Elman had an excellent post on Sunday on the possibility that, once inaugurated as president, Donald Trump would do what none of his predecessors ever did despite their promises and move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital.
The reason that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush never followed the law calling for moving the embassy because the law has a waiver provision, allowing the president not to move the embassy if he deems the move to threaten the national security.
The foreign policy smart set says that the president can’t do this because it will hurt the United States in the Arab world or because it would show the Palestinians that the United States is on Israel’s side or that it would prejudge the terms of any final deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
However, over the past eight years, President Barack Obama has put daylight between the United States and Israel, because as he put it, according to The Washington Post, “When there is no daylight, Israel just sits on the sidelines, and that erodes our credibility with the Arab states.” During Obama’s two terms in office there has been daylight and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been no more inclined to make peace with Israel during the past eight years than he was during the tenure of President George W. Bush.
I’m no diplomat so I don’t know what the proper words are but if Trump is to move the embassy perhaps he could say something like this:
In the more than 20 years since the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, my predecessors have signed an exemption to postpone the move of the American embassy to Israel’s capital Jerusalem out of fears that it could negatively impact the peace process. But over the past eight years there has been no peace process to speak of.
That hasn’t been due to a lack of effort. During his presidency, my predecessor President Barack Obama prevailed upon Israel to make concrete gestures to pave the way for peace talks with the Palestinian Authority. In 2010, Israel froze settlement construction for ten months. It was only in the final month of that freeze that the Palestinians started talking to Israel. Instead of using the opportunity of the freeze to begin serious bilateral talks with Israel, the Palestinians dallied and then demanded that the freeze be extended . When that didn’t happen they ended the talks with Israel.
In 2013 and 2014, the administration oversaw talks between Israel and the Palestinians. During those months Israel released dozens of terrorists – many with blood on their hands – from prison to keep the talks going. At the end of the talks, Secretary of State John Kerry offered a framework for a future peace deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted the framework; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not.
Worse than that, instead of responding to the American proposal, Abbas then attempted to form a unity government with the terrorist group Hamas and signed onto some 15 international conventions. In the first case, by embracing Hamas, Abbas violated one of the core premises underlying the peace process that the Palestinians must abandon terror. In the second case Abbas showed his contempt for another fundamental of the peace process, that peace is to be achieved through direct negotiations.
Not only did Abbas show his contempt for the peace process and Israel. He also defied the American government.
More than that he defied the international community that stood behind the Oslo Accords and the Quartet principles.
The latest manifestation of Abbas’s efforts to wage diplomatic war against Israel were last year’s disgraceful UNESCO resolutions denying the historical connection to Jerusalem.
It is time to acknowledge that the obstacle to peace is not Israel and not settlements, but the failure of the Palestinians to negotiate in good faith to bring to peace to the region. But more than that it’s time to fight against words that deny history with actions that affirm it.
There is no reason anymore to delay acknowledging: that Jerusalem is the indivisible capital of Israel. Why should Israel alone be discriminated against by not having nations stationing their representatives near the seat of Israel’s government? It is way past time to do right by our allies who seek peace and move the American embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s indivisible capital. No one doubts that Jerusalem will be part of Israel in any final deal, it should no longer be treated differently from any other capital city in the world.
If Israel wishes to cede parts of Jerusalem to a future Palestinian state as part of direct negotiations that is Israel’s right. If the Palestinians want to try to reclaim parts of Jerusalem through negotiations, let them negotiate in good faith.
I hope that other nations will the American lead and move their embassies to Jerusalem. It is time we recognized Israel’s efforts to achieve peace with the Palestinians, as well as the historical Jewish connection to Israel and Jerusalem and no longer allow the Palestinian refusal to deal directly with Israel to dictate how we treat Israel and Jerusalem.
Would Trump introduce his plan to move the embassy in such a fashion? Presented like this, the decision to move the embassy could force the world to stop being hypocritical about the peace process, reward Israel for its efforts and penalize the Palestinians for their intransigence.
How much longer must American (and global) diplomacy be held hostage to the whims of the Palestinians? Especially after the PA ambassador to the UN THREATENED Trump?
One interesting and related item: Yesterday in a conference call with reporters, The Tower reported that former Israeli national security advisor Yaacov Amidror was asked if he thought Trump’s promise to move the embassy was a good idea. Amidror responded, “No question. It will not change anything fundamental on the ground but it would be very symbolic that the capital of Israel is becoming a real capital in which foreign countries are building their embassies.” He added, “It’s very important symbolically.”