Dear Mr. President-Elect and Mr. Prime Minister,
You understand that you are being tested, do you not?
Mr. Trump, they want to know if you are as tough as you say you are and if you will live up to your promises. And Mr. Netanyahu, will you for once confront an issue head-on instead of finding a way to deflect it?
I’m talking about the embassy.
Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital since the cease-fire agreements were signed in 1949. The Knesset, the seat of Israel’s government, has been there ever since except for a few months in 1949, when it met in a Tel Aviv theater while a more permanent location was prepared. Jerusalem was also the capital of the Kingdom of Judah under King David around 1000 BCE. Israel has never had another capital.
When the city was divided and part of it was occupied by Jordan, it remained the capital of Israel. Even if under some hypothetical “peace” agreement the city were to be re-divided, it would still be the capital of Israel. The argument that recognition of this fact somehow presupposes the outcome of negotiations or is an obstacle to peace is ludicrous. Nobody is talking about putting the embassy in a disputed part of the city. It would be no different than the Knesset.
Some point to the 1947 UN partition resolution (UNGA 181), which called for all of Jerusalem to be placed under international control, as a justification for denying Israel’s clear title. But this resolution was a non-binding recommendation and it was never implemented, since the Arabs chose to try to settle the question of a Jewish state by war. If the US Administration and State Department insist on this, then they should also insist that much of the Galil and a chunk of the Negev also don’t belong to Israel, following the map of resolution 181. They don’t, because they realize that it would be insane to do so.
The non-recognition of Israel’s capital is no less than a denial of Israel’s sovereignty. What else does it mean to say that a state can’t choose its own capital city on its own territory?
Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu, if you do not proceed with the transfer of the embassy, you will be allowing the gang of murderers and thieves that the international community – and the Israeli government – has cravenly anointed as the leadership of the Palestinian Arabs, to exercise a “terrorist’s veto” over this overdue recognition of Israel’s sovereignty.
PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat recently said that such a move would create “chaos, lawlessness and extremism.” He also promised that “the infuriated Arab public” around the world would force US embassies in their countries to close (presumably by means of rocks and firebombs). Erekat said that moving the embassy would legitimize “Israel’s illegal annexation of eastern Jerusalem.” I hate to repeat myself, but how does moving it to western Jerusalem do that?
Erekat’s comments are meant as a threat that he will invoke the terrorist’s veto. He knows that you, Mr. Trump, don’t want to see US embassies worldwide under siege, and that you, Mr. Netanyahu, don’t want to be blamed for yet another intifada in which Israelis, Jewish and Arab, will die. The gangsters of the PLO are confident that this technique – that they have employed countless times – will be successful yet again.
But appeasement is not the way to respond to terrorism. Surely we’ve all learned that by now! If the US embassy may not be located in Jerusalem, then why should the Knesset and the Prime Minister’s office be there? If Jerusalem isn’t part of Israel, why is Tel Aviv? Maybe the Jews should all move “back” to Poland, Iraq and Russia?
Giving in to blackmail seems like the easy way out, but in the end you will pay ten times as much.
This is a test, Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu. Please don’t fail it.