In this Op-Ed, Mohammad S. Moussalli analyses President Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, its illegality, and aftereffects in view of the international community and UN invalidation of U.S. policy on Jerusalem. He scrutinizes the official statement and argues against the U.S. foreign policy of the last two decades.
In today’s world, peace and security come to be the primary issues of all countries, developed and developing alike. There was no time like nowadays where citizens deeply sense the absence of real tranquility and safety. For one reason or another, most the world population holds negative prospects about the progress of their countries and worries about the future of young generations.
Over the last few decades as yet, world leaders keep reiterating their intent to enforce peace and security on the national and international fronts. Though they call for peace, wars and hostilities tramp from one country to another with no expectation to end before long. Besides over 65 million of refugees, asylum seekers, and evacuees; the number of civilian casualties is in millions; while destruction and chaos march from one place into another. Dormant regional conflicts are now reignited to new disruptive levels, not to mention putting world peace at risk.
In all corners of our world, economic recession became a typical pattern, fighting poverty downgraded to be of low priority to policy-makers, environmental pollution and severe climate change issues turned into subjects of give-and-take conventions, political morals became irrelevant and outdated traditions, while politics are reformatted as an art of deception.
Nowadays, the (G-#) consortium of the so-called world leaders is jam-packed with political sciolists, opportunistic oppressors, trade profiteers, naïve monarchs, fanatic mullahs, and peacock-like tycoons. Mr. Putin, Erdogan, and Trump, for instance, exemplify the leadership qualities that our world doesn’t need at all. However, President Trump illogicality has dimmed the ill-practices and bad governance of most heads of state.
In principle, it is not for foreign nationals to judge the leadership and governing bodies of other nations. However, when it comes to the leader-nation of the free world, all have to scrutinize its policies. Like it or not, the United States is still the sole superpower—though weakened by Obama’s foreign policy and probably to a greater extent with president Trump. On that, it’s wise to track the U.S. foreign policy and its policy-making dynamics since it brings effects on most nation-states.
One year since president Trump, whose motto is to “Make America Great Again”, took office, and the result is that he degraded the U.S. global standing within the international community much further than his predecessor. The latest case of Mr. Trump’s ill-judged policy regarding Jerusalem, which pushed most of the world to stand against the U.S. policy, occurred in the United Nations. It is when the UN along with the U.S. closest allies found themselves duty bound to annul Mr. Trump orders about Jerusalem, not to speak of the U.S. courts’ repeals.
Actually, Mr. Trump has dropped the ball by taking one wrong decision after another. To refresh the public memory, here are few of Mr. Trump’s blunders:
- His attempt to interfere in the investigation about the role of his campaign associates in the Russian meddling in the 2016 election
- His unjustified firing of FBI director
- Issuing of discriminatory order to ban entry of nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries
- His order to deport undocumented immigrants
- His order to build a separation wall on the U.S.-Mexican borders
- Pulling the U.S. out from Paris Climate Agreement (a UN treaty)
- Issuing of a unilateral decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,
- Threatening to cut U.S. aid to any UN nation-member that vote against his decision regarding Jerusalem
What a … way to “Make America Great Again”!
Despite his swaggering threats, 128 nation-states voted to void the legality of the U.S. unilateral decision about Jerusalem.
The strange thing, however, is Mr. Trump’s line of argument and justification in this regard. He claimed of being realistic with the intention to bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians.
For the sake of clarity and reasonability in discussing Mr. Trump inadvisable decision, I have underlined and added superscripts to the points of discussion in the following excerpts of president Trump’s foreign policy speech and “Statement on Jerusalem”, issued on December 6, 2017:
….. I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the united states of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long-overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting (*a) a lasting agreement.
Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital (*B). Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace. Unquote
*A) President Trump seems unaware that any peacemaking process between any two parties needs fair and neutral mediation, let alone between Israel and the Palestinians.
*B) He seems unable to distinguish between the rights of sovereign nations to select their national capital cities and the illegality to do the same on occupied territories. Obviously, Mr. Trump has turned a blind eye to the United Nations resolution 181, decreed in 1947, which called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with Jerusalem as a “separate entity” to be governed by a special international regime.
…… 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 (*c). 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 (*d).
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 (*E). Unquote
*C) Trump’s concept of Israel democracy is untrue and superficial. It is so because though Israel political system delivers, more or less, representative elections, yet it doesn’t include the bases of democracy: Liberty and equality. Mr. Trump pretermitted the fact that though liberties have a space In Israel, yet it’s only for Jews—not even for Arab Israelis. He valued that Jews enjoy being equal Israeli citizens, but ignored that Arab-Israeli citizens never experienced this right yet
*D) Trump already knows that to live and worship freely in Israel is an exclusive right of Jews. Nonetheless, he disregarded the fact that the Israeli government is still restricting the freedom of non-Jews—not to discuss the oppressive settings imposed on the Palestinians who reside in the west bank and Gaza, and even on those living under the Israeli occupation.
*E) President Trump is either unaware that Israel bans, more often than not, Muslims from entering East Jerusalem and Haram al-Sharif even to pray, or believes that he can blind the fact by words. Mr. Trump should consider following few twitter accounts like BBC, CNN, AP or Al-Arabiya to catch the reality instead of building on notional views.
……..In making these announcements, i also want to make one point very clear: this decision is not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement. We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians. We are not taking a position of any final status issues, (*F) including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.
The united states remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement. Without question, Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in those talks. The united states would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides (*G). Unquote
*F) This statement exemplifies president Trump political deception skills. This is mainly because Mr. Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; whereas, he could have referred to West Jerusalem instead of Jerusalem if he did not really want to take a position on the final status of Jerusalem.
*G) In this statement, Mr. Trump has redirected the United States commitment to support a two-state solution into a new configuration, since he has hinged the U.S. support on the consent of both sides. While he already knows that Israel will never agree to that. Whereas, he could have emphasized clearly that the U.S. supports the implementation of a two-state solution in accordance with the UN resolution 181.
From a legal viewpoint, the United Nations and the international community slapped Mr. Trump in the face when the overwhelming majority of the UN’s nation-state members, including the EU, voted to “null and void” the U.S. decision on Jerusalem. In simple words, Mr. Trump’s decision on Jerusalem holds no legal force at all, since the international community refused to acknowledge what he sought to impose on the world.
Actually, besides destroying the prospect of peace between Israel and Palestinians, and stirring up more violence in the holy land, the only thing he achieved is demoting the U.S. intermediary role in the world.
In view of the above, president Trump seems to lack the knowledge of how to make peace in the Middle East—much less of how to “Make America Great Again”. He dealt with a highly sensitive and problematic issue like Jerusalem wrongly and unfairly. Distinctly, Mr. Trump’s “Statement on Jerusalem” exhibits his bias against Palestinians and Muslims. One year of delivering his wish-wash tweets, statements and executive orders in which he demonstrated his ingrained predisposition to nepotism and favoritism. Mr. Trump was very successful in embodying his discriminatory mindset through his unreasonable decisions and orders. He is accustomed to preferring corporations over individuals, Caucasians over colored people, Israelis over Arabs, Jews over Muslims, and so on.
Mr. Trump is not the first American president who favors Israel over Arabs and Palestinians. Nevertheless, only two American presidents were successful in promoting and creating peace between two Arab states and Israel (Jimmy Carter who sponsored Egypt-Israel peace treaty in 1979 and Bill Clinton who sponsored Jordan-Israel peace treaty in 1994). Yet, Mr. Trump seems incognizant of the formula behind Presidents Carter and Clinton peace achievements, and hence U.S. success. It is a formula of two qualities, which President Trump doesn’t have: impartiality and rationality.
Unfortunately, the role of the United States as the leader of the free world is on a downslope track ever since the presidency of George W. Bush and declined further with the hesitant policy of President Barak Obama, not to discuss the future of America with a president like Trump. Nevertheless, the causes of such declination are clear and amendable.
First, it is so because the compass of the United States policy has been reconfigured during the last two decades to top prioritize “what-is-in-it-for-us”. America maintained its world status as the greatest of all nations mainly because it continued to honor the moral values of its Founding Fathers nationally and internationally. Remembering that the primary motives that made the U.S. get into WWII were to free Europe from occupation, defeat tyrannical regimes and end the human suffering irrespective of the cost. While today’s America will not do that even for a just cause unless its national and economic interests are at risk.
Secondly, it is a result of eight years of the misleading falsehood of George W. Bush administration plus eight more years of Barack Obama’s double standards. Alas, given Mr. Trump irrationality and superficiality, the United States gradual decline seems to continue, but faster and steeper with President Trump.
Despite all that, America still has the potentials to rise to the top of the world again. But unfortunately, we have to wait three more years (hopefully sooner) to see its resurrection; since it is inconceivable while Donald Trump in office.
Otherwise, the free world will drift toward the unknown!