Trump’s Jerusalem Move in the Israeli Press

Prof. As’ad Abdul Rahman

Four groups with different views appeared in the Israeli press following the US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The first group strongly warned against its consequences on the ground as a move bound to fuel the conflict and eliminate chances of a resumption of peace negotiations. The second focused on its political results and whether Trump was forced to declare it. A third praised the move, mainly the writers of the extreme right. A fourth group considered that Trump offered Israel a poisonous gift that will make it sink in honey, but with  his mentality of a businessman, he might ask to be offered something in return, which is the only way to pass what he wants. Examples on these groups are numerous, but three on each will merely be mentioned.

Chemi Shalev, representing the first group wrote saying “this decision could ignite a local and regional fire that would harm American and Israeli interests in the Middle East, which could lead to violence that would undermine the institutions of the Palestinian authority, which invested a lot in developing their relations with Trump. This decision can shed blood of so many people.” Nir Hasson said: “There is fear that the political insult will be translated to a religious insult which can ignite a great fire. Trump’s words about the need to maintain the status quo in the holy sites will not quell the flames.” Eitan Haber referred to the significance and impact of religious symbols saying “the outcome could be destructive, – maybe deterioration into violence and war-, yet nothing may happen and life might return to its course, and I hope so. But since we have always been very good students of history, we need to learn from it; Wars do not only break out because of border disputes, but also over symbols and images and there are no stronger or more disputed symbols and images than those of Jerusalem.”

An editorial in Haaretz, reflecting the position of the second group noted that “the decision ignores the Palestinian aspirations and does not rise up to hopes to resolve the conflict.” The newspaper concluded: “it is not clear how President Trump looks to resolve the long conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians and match it with unilateral steps favouring one side only, especially on such a central and volatile issue. On his part, Tsevi Bareil wrote: “Trump should have clarified about what Jerusalem he is talking about”, adding that “if he also declared that he recognizes the original area of Jerusalem which has been annexed to the capital of Israel, he then, brings an end to one of the empty political conflicts that accompanied Israel since the six day war.” Bareil added “Trump will decide and Israel will collect the fragments…we should admit that Trump did not kill the peace process but stood on its grave, boasting that he was the one  who dared to declare its demise.” Along the same line, political analyst Aviad Kleinberg wondered about “the emerging question in the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”, and “what is the worth of this symbol to us?” “Practically nothing will change after moving the American embassy, for example. The United States position towards Israel will not be any better than it is now,” he said.

The third group, whose views were widely read in the ultra-right-wing Israeli daily, Israel Today (usually reflects Netanyahu’s position), welcomed the Trump decision. For example, Yoram Ettinger wrote: “Failure to transfer the embassy is interpreted as an American surrender to Arab pressure, fear of terrorism, and adoption of European weakness, in the shadow of erosion in the American deterrence which is critical to American national security and the stability of the world.” Meir Uzieli in Ma’ariv wrote: “What has prevented the American embassy from moving to Jerusalem so far is the fear of Arab terrorism, and it also directs our steps,” He added “Trump came to break this barrier and proceed on from logic and principles”, he said. Israeli President Ruben Rivlin wrote an article saying: “I think there is no more beautiful and fitting gift than this at the end of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel”. “It is time to bring peace to Jerusalem and bring hope to the capital of Israel, to which all people from all over the world are being driven”, he added.

The fourth group as the military analyst Ron Ben Yishai expressed in writing that “the goal of the Trump declaration is probably to prepare for the possibility of later declaring things that are more particularly pleasing to the Palestinians, and then Israel will have to swallow what he says silently because it has already got what it wanted”. Aluf Ben David suggested that “one has to be blind so that he does not see the step he is cooking here. The recognition of Jerusalem comes as a step to ease what will come next, a candy before the bitter pill that Israel will have to swallow in the draft agreement that will be presented by Trump soon.” The most recent example was in Amiram Levin article where he said that “such American recognition should be welcomed, but it is important to remember that there are no free gifts in the international relations system. Netanyahu must see that, otherwise his victory will be very short.”

A whole generation in Palestine waited for long years to see what the world falsely called a peace process to be achieved but Trump hastens to destroy hope. The Palestinians have nothing to lose anymore. The occupation continues, as well as the colonization of land, demolition of homes, killings, and Jerusalem is getting out of the hands of its owners. The Israelis are working fast to expand its borders to reach the Dead Sea in the east. The question remains: What will make the Palestinians fear to rise up, today, tomorrow and always?


كاتب وباحث عربي، ومحلل سياسي مختص في القضايا الفلسطينية وشؤون الصراع العربي الإسرائيلي

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