President Trump’s Jerusalem Statement is a Blessing in Disguise for Muslims
By Saeed Qureshi
American president Donald Trump’s announcement of recognition of Jerusalem as the capitol of the state of Israel on December 6 is unacceptable and repugnant to the Islamic fraternity around the world. This decision reverses the USA stance maintained for several decades on this sensitive matter.
President Trump also plans to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which is also a holy city for the Muslims, Jews and Christians alike. Although some of the previous presidents had been declaring to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state but those proclamations were never implemented.
However, in fact, this uncalled-for decision should be viewed as a blessing in disguise for the Muslims. In recent years and decades, the Muslims have never been united on an issue as the one announced by Trump. This combustible issue of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel has catapulted a combined reaction and nurtured solidarity among over 2 billion Muslims and 49 Islamic states irrespective of their mutual differences and discords premised upon faith, region and ethnicity.
Its is heartening and rather amazing to see the religiously and regionally mutually hostile Islamic states of Iran and Saudi Arabia joining hands against Trump and Israel. They have demonstrated collective reaction and solidarity on this grave matter that has been the fundamental bane of discord between Israel and Palestinians as well as between the rest of the Islamic world and Israel.
Palestinian officials have declared that the decision disqualifies the United States from peace talks. Palestinians’ militant group Hamas has called for a new intifada following Trump's declaration. There have been demonstrations in Iran, Jordan, Tunisia, Somalia, Yemen, Malaysia and Indonesia, and outside the U.S. embassy in Berlin. Four people were killed in clashes in Palestine including two Hamas members.
President Trump since his inauguration has openly manifested hostility towards the Muslims both living within the United States and across the globe by his myriad anti-Muslims statements and taking certain decisions to defame and harm the Muslims. With his peculiar and unpredictable temperament and propensity of taking kneed jerk decisions, he has come to be known as the most trenchant anti- Muslims president of the United States.
He has been issuing executive orders to bar and ban the arrival of the Muslims into the USA as genuine immigrants or for some other cogent reasons. Lately a ban has been placed on immigrants from six Islamic countries. Due to Judiciary’s intervention his anti-Muslims’ immigration orders couldn’t be actually implemented. He doesn’t show any inhibition in declaring the Muslims as terrorists. By such hard stance and rigid anti-Muslims bent of mind he has driven a wedge of hostility and discord between the USA and the Islamic bloc.
This doesn’t seem to be a prudent policy to antagonize the Muslims and thus alienating USA from nurturing and promoting goodwill as well as social, cultural and economic bonds which can be fruitful to both USA and the Muslim countries replete with productive manpower and natural resources.
It is no more possible for the militarily stronger countries such as USA and USSR to subdue the smaller nations by use of military force and imposing economic sanctions. As such the period of cold war and arm-twisting in the aftermath of the second world is coming to an end. If a tiny country like North Korea can browbeat and resist the hegemonic and intimidating threats of president Trump by counterpoising in the same bullying jargon and defiance, how could other countries with huge resources, manpower and strong armies can submit to the threats and use of force by the USA.
In the meantime, many countries both Islamic and non-Islamic have denounced Trump’s decision which they think could lead to fresh fighting between the Palestinians and Israel. There have been unremitting protests in all the Muslim countries generally and in Palestine specifically over this myopic decision by president Trump.
The USA seems to be isolated because of this colossally faulty decision which will be resisted by the Muslims until it was withdrawn. It is such a sensitive issue on which the Muslims particularly the Palestinians can never compromise. As such president Trump has alienated USA from most of the Islamic polities and it may limit the America’s goodwill in bilateral relations with those states.
President Trump justified his decision by arguing that recognizing Jerusalem was a long overdue step to advance the peace process. He talked of brokering an agreement that would prove to be a great deal both for the Israelis and the Palestinians. About moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, president Trump claimed that this decision was part of his pledge that he made during his elections campaign last year.
The Arabs, Muslim and European leaders, have vigorously opposed and decried Trump decision which is believed to spark bitterness and unleash a new wave of violence across the region and renewal of fighting between the Palestinians and Israeli security forces as was done in the past for many decades.
Among the world leaders who decried Trump’s solo decision and considered it as a threat to the peace in the Middle East are European Union’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, Pope Francis, and the Chinese foreign ministry.
John O. Brennan, the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said in a statement that Mr. Trump’s action was “reckless and would “damage U.S. interests in the Middle East for years to come and will make the region more volatile.”
Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital was rejected by the majority of world leaders. The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting on 7 December where 14 out of 15 members condemned Trump's decision. The Security Council said the decision to recognize Jerusalem was in violation of U.N. resolutions and international law, but was unable to issue a statement without the endorsement of the United States.
Britain, France, Sweden, Italy and Japan were among the countries who criticized Trump's decision at the emergency meeting. Shortly before Trump's announcement, in November 2017 while 151 countries of the United Nations General Assembly voted to reject Israeli ties to Jerusalem. Six nations voted against the resolution, and nine abstained.
The European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini emphasized that “all governments of EU member states were united on the issue of Jerusalem, and reaffirmed their commitment to a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. On 9 December, Turkey announced that that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would be working with French president Emmanuel Macron in a joint effort to persuade the United States to reconsider its decision
Under the 1947 UN Partition Plan to divide historical Palestine between Jewish and Arab states, Jerusalem was granted special status and was meant to be placed under international sovereignty and control. The special status was based on Jerusalem's religious importance to the three Abrahamic religions.
Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, and most of the world considers it occupied territory. Jerusalem’s Old City has the third-holiest mosque in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism, making the city’s status a sensitive issue for Muslims and Jews alike. Jerusalem is also sacred place for the Christians.
In the meantime, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason D. Greenblatt, have been working for months behind the curtain to arrange negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians without any tangible progress.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that “President’s announcement did not indicate any final status for Jerusalem and it was very clear that the final status, including the borders, would be left to the two parties to negotiate and decide”.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat. This and other articles by the writer can also be read at his blog www.uprightopinion.com