President Donald Trump made history yesterday officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, almost 70 years after the United States became the first country in the world to extend diplomatic recognition to the Jewish state.
“Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world,” President Trump said in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.
Over the past seven decades, the Israeli people have built a country where Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and according to their beliefs. Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted thanks to Trump for the “historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Jewish people and the Jewish state will be forever grateful.”
Of course the usual suspects were broken records, apoplectic on cue.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned there would be “dangerous consequences.” His office issued a statement declaring that “East Jerusalem is the key to war and peace and any solution must guarantee East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.” Palestinian politicians are calling for “days of rage” in the streets to protest Trump’s decision, and are hoping the violence goes global.
Predictably, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Trump’s move was a “red line” for Muslims, whatever that means.
Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, warned U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that Trump’s proclamation could “trigger anger across the Arab and Muslim world, fuel tension and jeopardize peace efforts.”
These are the same tedious things Islamists always say whenever the United States does anything perceived as supportive of Israel.
In making the proclamation about Jerusalem, Trump honored a campaign promise, one to which plenty of politicians on both sides of the aisle have given mere lip service over the years.
President Trump’s courageous, unprecedented proclamation finally ends the long-running charade that Jerusalem is legally or politically different from or somehow not legitimately a part of sovereign Israeli territory. And it confers on Israel as a whole a special kind of political legitimacy well beyond what President Harry Truman provided May 14, 1948 when he extended U.S. diplomatic recognition to the nascent State of Israel.
Recognizing a sovereign nation without recognizing the capital it claims as its own is only a half-measure. While better than nothing, that quasi-recognition by the world’s only superpower has needlessly left Israel vulnerable and given its enemies plenty of wiggle room over the years, it could be argued. Dangling the prospect of full recognition, that is, of recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, hasn’t been the bargaining chip to promote Middle East peace so many members of the foreign policy establishment have claimed; it’s more of an albatross around both Israeli and American necks.
Thanks to President Trump, Palestinians and their terrorist allies will no longer be able to threaten to open the gates of hell every time an American president talks about moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It will no longer be an available talking point; it will be a fait accompli.
For years American presidents have signed waivers under the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 that encouraged the federal government to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognize that city as Israel’s capital, President Trump said.
Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.
Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace. Some say they lacked courage, but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time. Nevertheless, the record is in. After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.
Jerusalem was the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times and it is right to give it the recognition it deserves, President Trump said.
Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the prime minister and the president. It is the headquarters of many government ministries.
Now is the time to stop walking on eggshells around the Jerusalem question and recognize the status of Jerusalem within Israel, the president said.
American presidents “have declined to acknowledge any Israeli capital at all,” Trump said. “But today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”
Trump explained that he has directed the Department of State to begin preparations for relocating the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers, and planners, so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.”
Some left-wing Israel-haters have complained about President Trump’s so-called unilateralism on the Jerusalem issue. They say he is going around the oh-so-sacred peace process, not strengthening it.
But Palestinians and their allies have been leveraging international bodies such as the United Nations for years in an attempt to get their way outside of the peace process.
This is exactly what President Barack Hussein Obama did in his final parting shot at Israel before leaving office.
Former Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, a Nevada Democrat, attacked Israel-hating Obama in fairly blunt terms in the final weeks of his presidency.
Obama stood by and did nothing when the United Nations “stooped to a new low … passing a Security Council resolution with the transparent goal of delegitimizing Israel and damaging the prospects for a lasting negotiated peace with the Palestinians.”
The Obama administration’s decision to abstain, allowing the UN’s highest body to condemn Israel in such harsh and biased terms, declare settlements an illegal obstacle to peace, and call the eternal capital of the Jewish people “occupied,” is unprecedented and dangerous. The resolution passed by the Security Council suggests that the location of the most holy site for the Jewish people, the Western Wall, is not in Israel, and that the Old City of Jerusalem is a “settlement.”
What a difference a presidential election makes.