Relocation of the U.S Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem is increasingly likely to fuel conflict with the Palestinians.
President Donald Trump couldn’t have given Israel a nicer birthday present. Today, on the 70th anniversary of the state’s founding, he will officially relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, formally recognizing the city as the capital of Israel. There is certain to be applause from most Israelis, as there will be rage from the Palestinians. Justifiably, they feel sold out, because they, too, claim Jerusalem as the capital of their future state of Palestine; it is just as holy for them as it is for the Jews.
Trump doesn’t care about any of that. He asserts facts that at times, leave his most important allies able only to shake their heads. (See, for example, the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.) Trump’s twisted logic in the case of relocating the embassy to Jerusalem is that it will sharpen the Palestinian’s sense of reality and accelerate the peace process. Similarly, Trump likes to claim that the initial threat of bringing “fire and fury” to North Korea forced the “little rocket man” to the negotiating table.
Trump’s kind of reasoning will not succeed in the Middle East. Up to now, there has been no indication that the two opposing parties – Israel and Palestine – have drawn closer since Trump’s Jerusalem decision in December. On the contrary: Dozens of Palestinian protesters were shot to death during protests in the Gaza strip on Israel’s border.
With the new embassy, America is sending the message that Israel and the U.S. are so close, one couldn’t slip a piece of paper between them — and that is the actual tragedy. Without Washington, the mother of all conflicts can never be resolved. However, for that to occur, there must be a modicum of understanding paid to the Palestinians. The relocation of the diplomatic delegation bears witness to the opposite sentiment. It will not curb the confrontation, but instead, it is more likely to add fuel to it, and remain a constantly painful thorn in the Palestinians’ side.