JUST A YEAR after he was elected, US President Donald Trump is getting ready to boost the Israeli state at the expense of the Palestinian people and their hopes of being treated fairly in their own country.
Trump is expected to announce that the US will recognise that the city of Jerusalem is the capital of the Israeli state – a move which would end any pretence that the US can play a neutral role and help bring about peace in the Middle East. One immediate result of the policy is expected to be that the US will move its embassy in the state of Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
As world leaders queue up to express concerns over the policy change, or even to condemn it outright as a move that will end the faltering remnants of international attempts to broker a peace deal, the US is tightening security at embassies around the world. Even the Pope has called on Trump not to upset the status quo in Jerusalem.
The statement on Jerusalem is expected to be made just days after the US Courts finally allowed Trump to ban nationals from various Muslim countries from entering the US – a headline campaign pledge which Trump had great difficulty in implementing. The embassy move within the state of Israel could be the second pledge to be honoured and may encourage Trump to go ahead with his impractical plan to build a wall on the US border with Mexico (and make Mexico pay for it).
Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 war. Palestinians want to see East Jerusalem become the capital of a Palestinian state – and it is this aspiration which Trump is knocking back. East Jerusalem is also the location of religious sites which are important to the Jewish faith, but also to Islam and even Christianity. Therefore Trump is making a move which is not only partisan in terms of the Israeli state but also offends religious beliefs.
In an attempt to solidify its claim to appropriate East Jerusalem, Israel has settled around 200,000 Jewish residents in the area – a move which has been declared contrary to international law by every state except Israel. US officials are trying to play down Trump’s recognition of East Jerusalem as nothing more than accepting reality – which is exactly why the Israeli state moved new residents into the city, to force its claim to the area.
The UK has not sided with Trump – yet. Theresa May has described Trump’s gesture as not in line with UK policy, which remains in favour of a negotiated settlement of East Jerusalem’s future. She has said she will “speak to” Trump about the matter – a threat he is not likely to take very seriously.
Palestinian leaders have described Trump’s statement as bringing an end to the peace process – creating a vacuum in which protest and, sadly, terror attacks are likely to follow. More innocent lives are likely to be lost – with Trump either to ignorant to understand this will be the consequence or too deluded to care.