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Trump Decision Means Explosion For Middle East

By Brian E. Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Dec 14, 2017 - 4:01:38 PM

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President Donald Trump recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in an announcement at The White House Dec. 6. Photos: MGN Online
The unilateral decision of President Donald Trump to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem sparked days of outrage and violent protests worldwide.

In reaction to the Dec. 6 announcement, people spilled onto the streets of Arab nations and outside of American embassies in other countries in a show of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” said President Trump, speaking from the Diplomatic Reception room at the White House.

“While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering,” he said.

Palestinians protest in Gaza City following Trump’s Jerusalem decision.
A White House press release issued the same day stated: “President Trump is prepared to support a two-state solution to the dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians, if agreed to by the parties.” In the announcement, President Trump described the decision as the beginning of a “new approach” to address a waning peace process. But, opponents say it torpedoes any present and future efforts by the U.S. as a peace broker and throws more chaos into an already chaotic situation.

“It is an incredibly irresponsible, ignorant, dangerous decision,” said Dr. Wilmer Leon, a political scientist and host of Inside Issues on Sirius XM.

President Trump reversed 70 years of U.S. policy while undermining the basic international norms that undergirded the peace process for decades, say experts.

Jerusalem is situated within Israel and Palestine.
“What we have to understand is the difference between politics and policy. For previous presidents to make the campaign promise to have Jerusalem as the capital of Israel—that’s politics,” Dr. Leon said.

Jerusalem is a promise that politicians are compelled to make to placate a particular constituency, he explained.

Once in office they learn practically “you can’t just do that” and “it has to be part of a negotiation strategy” to get the Israelis and Palestinians to come to a peaceful resolution, he said.

As events intensified, protestors burned effigies of Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the American and Israeli flags. Declarations of “Down with Trump!” and “Down with Israel!” could be heard on Arab streets. “America is the head of the snake!” could be heard shouted in Amman, Jordan.

Associated Press reported hundreds of youths clashed with Israeli forces at checkpoints. In Gaza, demonstrations took place along the border fence and in Gaza City. Dozens were injured in the backlash against the U.S. Jerusalem move.

In Turkey, over 3,000 people gathered outside a mosque in Istanbul’s conservative Fatih district after Friday prayers and were marching toward a park, waving Palestinian flags and chanting anti- U.S. slogans. There were protests outside a besieged American Embassy as well.

Similar actions occurred in Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt and Somalia. At Final Call press time calls for demonstrations and protests were underway in the United States.

A large crowd protests in Gaza City following U.S. President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem decision Dec. 7. Photos: MGN Online

“Trump’s announcement, made with the support of the Republican and Democratic Party … is an outrageous attack on the rights of the oppressed Palestinian people,” said a statement issued by Act Now to Stop War and End Racism Coalition (A.N.S.W.E.R.).

The statement said the decision is a “gift to the racist, apartheid government of Israel, whose clear aim is to colonize all of Palestine, and drive out as much of the indigenous Palestinian population.”

The decision places the United States as “dead on arrival” as a broker for peace, said analysts. “It demonstrates to the world once and for all that the United States is not an honest broker for Israel and Palestine,” said Bill Fletcher, racial justice and international human rights activist. “The U.S. got nothing for this … any pretense about a peace plan is absurd.”

“While the president has declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, we know that his declaration is null and void,” said Oussama Jammal, secretary general of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations. He was addressing a demonstration against the move outside the White House.

“It is evident that the entire world community has rejected, opposed and questioned his declaration,” Mr. Jammal said.

Placing the interest of Israel over the interest of the United States with the embassy move, the president may be fulfilling political promises to top donors like Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, observers note. The decision also energizes Evangelicals and Christian Zionists—a major part of his base, said critics. “But, we proudly are thankful to him because he energized the entire world for the cause of Jerusalem,” Mr. Jammal said.

Mr. Jammal said it really isn’t about the peace process. “This is not about the Palestinian issue, there was no peace process to threaten the peace process to stop,” he reasoned.

Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
“This is no jeopardy for any negotiations because there are no negotiations going on,” Mr. Jammal added. “This is to mount the entire region into another war … another destruction that has already been taking place.”

The issue galvanized worldwide condemnation. For decades the world community, passing many United Nation mandates and resolutions rejected, Israeli annexation and exclusive claims to Jerusalem. For example, in 1980 the UN Security Council Resolutions 476 and 478 declared that “all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” Resolution 476 reads in part. The resolution was adopted by a 14-0 vote, with the United States abstaining.

Experts said President Trump’s decision counters seeing Jerusalem as a neutral territory for diverse groups that claim connections to the city. Israel claims Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided” capital; Palestinians considers East Jerusalem, under Israeli occupation since 1967, their future capital.

Muslims, Christians and Jews claim Jerusalem as a place of historical significance. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is there which Muslims revere as their third holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. The Temple on the Mount, that Jews revere and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and other sites Christians hold sacred are in Jerusalem. Politically, Jerusalem has been a powder keg in the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.

Jerusalem is also a controversial issue in U.S. domestic politics where Israel enjoys wide bi-partisan support in Washington. The Jewish state exercises heavy influence largely from aggressive lobbying through the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said “a lot of work lies ahead” in a press statement in support for the move. He advocated “carefully” relocating the embassy, “in a way that advances our national security interests in a dangerous and unstable region.”

Adverse reactions came swiftly from opponents of the policy who say it’s reckless and wrongheaded.

Global leaders, key U.S. allies, regional blocs like the European Union, the UN and major voices of religion warned and condemned President Trump’s move as a setback for world peace and stability.

These are “difficult times,” remarked Federica Moghenni, top European Union diplomat. “No one can afford any further destabilization. That would be a gift to extremists,” Ms. Moghenni said.

Speaking from Brussels, she advocated the U.S. remain at the peace and mediation table in what she calls the quartet—U.S., UN, EU, and Russia. However, among other EU leaders, the opinion is America forfeited its place.

“The reality is they are alone and isolated on this one,” said France Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on French radio.

“Al-Azhar strongly warns against this act, stressing that any declaration on this issue will kindle the feelings of anger among all the Muslims, threaten global peace, and promote tension, division and hatred all over the world,” the university in Egypt said in a statement before the position was officially announced.

“I appeal strongly for all to respect the city’s status quo, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions,” said Pope Francis during a weekly address. “I pray to God that this identity is preserved and reinforced, for the sake of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world, and that wisdom and prudence prevail,” he said.

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