A year and a half ago, President Trump kept a campaign promise. Unlike his three predecessors, he stopped issuing waivers to the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which was passed by overwhelming margins in both the Senate (93-5) and the House of Representatives (374-37), and became law on November 9, 1995, without President Bill Clinton’s signature. Mr Clinton was not a fan, and Senate majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS) added a provision which allowed the President to waiver away building an embassy in Jerusalem if “such suspension is necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States.”
President Trump’s difference of opinion with his predecessors was hardly new, having been expressed at least as early as 2012. From The Washington Post:
Passing the law allowed Congress to demonstrate commitment to the issue while not forcing the president to act on it. It also meant that, for those interested in doing so, the issue was kept alive as a political issue.
Over the course of his time in politics, Donald Trump has been interested in doing so.
In 2012, he praised a pro-Mitt-Romney ad that supported then-candidate Romney’s declaration that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. As Trump campaigned for president, he made the same pronouncement. In an interview with CNN in March 2016, he said that he would not only recognize Jerusalem as the capital but also move the embassy — something he would do “fairly quickly.”
Axios queried the members of the Democratic cavalcade of clown, asking if they would return our embassy to Tel Aviv if elected, and most of them criticized Mr Trump’s move, but wouldn’t reverse it now that it has occurred; some, including Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), were too cowardly declined to respond to the question.
Well, now CNN has published an OpEd piece by James Zogby, who called the move a “fatal blow to peace”:
Opinion by James Zogby | Updated 7:01 PM ET | Friday December 6, 2019
(CNN) — Two years ago Friday, President Donald Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It was an irresponsible, dangerous and cruelly insensitive act that did grave damage to the rights and well-being of Palestinians and put an end to any pretense that the United States could help negotiate a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
From the beginning of the modern “peace process,” there have been two fatal flaws that have hampered the effort: the asymmetry of power in Israel’s favor and the clear US bias in support of Israel. The unilateral American recognition of Jerusalem emphasized both flaws. It prejudged one of the conflict’s most sensitive issues in Israel’s favor and emboldened and rewarded the most hardline elements in Israel while compromising those Palestinian and Arab leaders who had put their trust in the US role. The decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital made clear that the US could not be an honest broker.
Jerusalem is not to be toyed with. It is not just any city. It is central to the narratives of all three Abrahamic faiths. For this reason, the architects of the 1947 UN plan that partitioned Palestine into Jewish and Arab states set it aside as an international zone. It was for this reason that when Israel occupied the Western side of the city following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and later declared Jerusalem as its capital, that unilateral decision was never recognized by the international community.
Israel compounded their defiance in 1967 when, after occupying the rest of Palestine, they annexed a substantial area of Palestinian land (including a number of Palestinian villages) as a result of the Six-Day War and declared the entirety of West and East Jerusalem as “Greater Jerusalem” insisting that it was their “eternal undivided capital.”
This flagrant violation of international law was unanimously condemned by the United Nations. Seen in this context, Trump’s action puts the US stamp of approval on Israel’s 70-year record of violations of law and UN Resolutions.
There’s more at the original.
As I have said previously, my respect for ‘international law’ is not high; there are no enforcement mechanisms which can make any nation comply, short of military force. Nations will act in what they see as their own best interests, regardless of international law.
Mr Zogby complains that the United States cannot be an “honest broker” for peace due to this action, but the author himself is hardly a dispassionate observer. CNN noted that:
James Zogby is co-founder and president of the Arab American Institute. He is director of Zogby Research Services, a firm that conducts surveys across the Middle East. He served two terms as an Obama appointee to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and is the author of Arab Voices. Follow him on Twitter @jjz1600.
Of all of those things, the fact that Mr Zogby served as President Obama’s appointee is the most damning, given President Obama’s end of term actions to have Ambassador Samantha Power abstain on a Security Council vote condemning Israel, and then-Secretary of State John Kerry’s long presentation in December of 2016, after Donald Trump had been elected, to set forth Obama Administration policy toward Israel with less than a month remaining in that Administration. Messrs Obama and Kerry were attempting to undercut President Trump’s policies; should anyone be surprised, then, that Mr Trump was steadfast in doing what he said that he would do?
Mr Zogby claimed that President Trump, doing something really radical like obeying American law, was delivering a fatal blow to peace in the Holy Land. But President Clinton, who kept issuing those waivers, made a vigorous run toward getting an Arab/Israeli peace agreement, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak had agreed to the framework Mr Clinton had hammered out . . . but it was contemptuously rejected by Palestinian “President” Yasser Arafat.
Presidents Bush and Obama then made their own peace attempts, and both were fruitless. For twenty-one years following the passage of the Jerusalem Embassy Act, American Presidents kept issuing those waivers and kept striving for peace, and none of them got anywhere. I would ask the distinguished Mr Zogby, what evidence is there that retaining our embassy in Tel Aviv during all of those years helped the peace process?
“Gentlemen may cry peace, peace- but there is no peace! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why should we idle here?…I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” — Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775
Mr Zogby, perhaps unintentionally, noted the only good reason for Israel to have its capital in Jerusalem:
Jerusalem is the wound in the heart of Arabs and Muslims that never healed. With his callous decision to effectively absolve Israel of its crimes and recognize their control of the city by conquest, Trump rubbed salt into this wound.
Every nation on earth has its borders set by the only truly important force in history: the right of conquest. The borders of the United States, of every country in the Western hemisphere, were set by the conquest of the indigenous peoples here by European settlers. The borders in Europe have changed many times due to the ebb and flow of military force. Why does Her Majesty the Queen not have sovereignty over Aquitaine? Where is the Austro-Hungarian Empire? The Serbs ruling Yugoslavia tried, and failed, to use military force to hold Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, and now Yugoslavia is gone, more recently than Israel’s conquest of territory in 1967, yet we recognize that.
The Jewish immigrants to the Holy Land were given far less land by the United Nations, and the Arab inhabitants tried to take even that from them, by war, in 1948, 1556, 1967 and 1973. The Arabs tried to conquer that land, and they failed. That’s another lesson of history: sometimes wars of conquest fail, sometimes those who sought to conquer land were not only stymied, but driven back and lost some of the land they had previously. The Arabs tried to conquer Israel, and they failed. Too bad for them, but very right for Western civilization.
The left may cry peace, peace, but there is no peace, not in the Middle East. The Palestinians are, and have been, in a unique situation in world history, having the ability to win their war of independence by the expedient of not fighting. If the Arabs had simply stopped shooting at the Israelis, the ugly security measures would have been withdrawn and the Israeli people would have demanded that their government let the Palestinians have their independence; that government would have either have done so, or fallen. It is only because the Palestinian extremists couldn’t stop shooting, couldn’t stop lobbing rockets into Israel proper, that there is no Palestinian state.
“Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us,” Golda Meir is alleged to have said. Thus far, that date has not arrived.
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