By Yochanan Gordon
There has been a ton of speculation surrounding the president’s decision regarding the US embassy in Israel. Although it is commonplace and even law that the US Embassy be situated in the capital city of each respective country – when it comes to Israel the rules have been altered. Despite the passage of the Israel Embassy act voted into law by the 103rd congress in 1995, which gave a deadline of 1999 for the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump have signed waivers, delaying this decision which they see as an impediment to lasting peace in the Middle East.
This decision is receiving much more attention these days due to repeated promises by the candidate Donald Trump that the relocation of the US Embassy in Israel is not s matter if if but when. Vice President Mike Pence, just the other day insinuated that the move is being strongly considered and that it is a matter of logistics at this point.
However, reports over the last day or so have indicated that the President will formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel without actually moving the Embassy at least this time around as a way of limiting the shock of the Palestinians and perhaps curtailing any riots and potential casualties that may ensue subsequent to the move.
In fact, it is the aftermath of this decision that has split Jews, even strong proponents of Israel with regards to what the right move is. Since the safety and security of Israeli’s come before all else, if such a move will result in the death or even injury of one civilian or army personnel, it is certainly not worth the price of loss of life.
Conversely, Israel’s own Prime Minister, Bibi Netnayahu has been quoted saying that the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace in the region. Prior to the Presidents first implementation of the Presidential waiver, keeping the Embassy in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu was quoted in the press saying that moving the Embassy would shatter the Palestinian belief that statehood is a foreseeable possibility and shatter an historic injustice of the Palestinians who maintain that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.
While it is clearly counterintuitive it seems that the only thing that has not been tried in fifty plus years trying to achieve a political peace solution to the unrest and bloodshed in the Middle East is in fact the move of the embassy. Now, you’re sure to say, that this is the only thing that hasn’t been tried because it is seen as a provocation and not a peaceful gesture. And while the preservation of life is something we all agree is our number one objective – I don’t remember this question being considered regarding any previous overtures that israel had made to the Palestinians which resulted in a barrage of rockets resulting in bloodshed and loss of life?
This points to the perennial complex that israel has always been known For. Israel sees itself as the aggressor and moving the embassy to Jerusalem would just further that narrative. This is the only way to explain why the question regarding loss of was not weighed in on prior to withdrawing from Gaza in 2005 or the other myriad unilateral overtures that Israel had made in the name of peace. Following this faulty narrative the moment Israel withdrew from Gush Katif in August of 2005 relations with the Palestinians should have improved drastically, sadly, though, it had reached an all time low with incidence of terror and bloodshed increasing exponentially.
Proponents of the peace accords had said then what wouldn’t we be willing to try for the sake of peace? The truth is, anyone with any knowledge of the Palestinian’s and the science of geopolitics knew that forfeiting strategic land would result in a higher incidence of terror and life lost but it’s almost as if there was any opportunity to challenge the viability of such a move without being labeled a firebrand warmonger. It’s now time that we use their same argument and guilt trip that they used back then, on them. Following the process of elimination if peace with the Palestinians is at all possible, moving the embassy has much greater chances of succeeding since it’s about the only thing that hasn’t been attempted. What then are you not willing to do for the sake of peace in the Middle East?
Perhaps the greatest criticism of the Obama administration at least with regards to foreign policy was the weak stance that they put forth on the global stage. Obama’s main objective was to unravel American elitism which he felt impacted America’s likability in the world. President Trump decried the senselessness in this approach, instead pushing the narrative of peace through power. It had been noted on the campaign trail time and again that after Iran had held tens of hostages during the Reagan campaign – the very day President Ronald Reagan was sworn into office was the day these hostages were released. That signaled the inept approach of the Carter administration versus that of Raegans.
In many ways the distinctions between Carter and Raegan are replayed in Obama and Trump. But it seems that despite all of his strong rhetoric President Trump is finding it hard to deliver on a campaign promise that he was unequivocal about during the campaign.
To the claim that his apprehension is based on security concerns and the safety of Israelis – that was not considered prior to seceding land which security experts knew would lead to further unrest and bloodshed. It’s about time Israel try strength and forthrightness as s means of achieving peace – I think that might just be the missing link.