In Acknowledging the Reality about Jerusalem, the U.S. Helped the Cause of Peace

Dec. 13 2017

Belief is widespread in the Arab world that Jews have no claim—historical, political, or moral—to the city of Jerusalem, writes Haisam Hassanein, an Arab-American born in the Middle East. When Western leaders effectively pay lip service to that belief by refusing to recognize the city as Israel’s capital, they encourage the delusion that the Jewish state might vacate it entirely in a future peace deal. Thus, Hassanein contends, the longstanding U.S. policy of ambiguity has made the acceptance of such a deal less likely:

Based on my personal experience, I think U.S. policymakers over many years have been irrational, even deluded, to think that millions of Arabs—let alone Palestinians—will accept a peace settlement acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state. The fact is, insisting upon this up front, laying this down as essentially non-negotiable, is the only chance the idea will ever get through their heads. . . .

We have heard all the talk about coming violence [that might occur] if and when the United States acknowledges Jerusalem as the capital of Israel—despite the fact that the U.S. Congress has repeatedly declared this to be the case.

The coming weeks and months will prove those warnings to have been overblown. Yes, there [has been] outrage and protests in some countries. But Arab governments criminalize free speech and the right to assemble. Any protests, violence, and rioting are likely to be staged or permitted by Arab governments to blackmail the U.S. policy community into following their views, which unfortunately previous U.S. administrations have tolerated. . . . Those who do protest [are] driven by a political agenda that denies Israel’s right to exist outright and are fundamentally hostile to the United States. . . .

Acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital just may be the necessary breath of fresh air we need: it will settle this issue, and if they want and need a state, Palestinians will have to move on to issues that truly deserve and demand negotiations.

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Read more at New York Daily News

More about: Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations

Palestinian Acceptance of Israel as the Jewish State Must Be a Prerequisite to Further Negotiations

Oct. 19 2018

In 1993, in the early days of the Oslo peace process, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasir Arafat accepted the “right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security.” But neither it nor its heir, the Palestinians Authority, has ever accepted Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, or the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. Robert Barnidge explains why this distinction matters:

A Jewish state for the Jewish people, after all, was exactly what the [UN] General Assembly intended in November 1947 when it called for the partition of the Palestine Mandate into “the Arab state, the Jewish state, and the city of Jerusalem.”

Although the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state does not stand or fall on this resolution—in declaring the independence of Israel on the eve of the Sabbath on May 14, 1948, the Jewish People’s Council, [the precursor to the Israeli government], also stressed the Jewish people’s natural and historic rights—it reaffirms the legitimacy of Jewish national rights in (what was to become) the state of Israel.

The Palestinians have steadfastly refused to recognize Jewish self-determination. [Instead], the PLO [has been] playing a double game. . . . It is not simply that the PLO supported the General Assembly’s determination in 1975, rescinded in 1991, that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” It is that that the PLO leadership continues to speak of Jews as a religious community rather than a people, and of Zionism as a colonial usurper rather than the national liberation movement that it is.

The U.S. government, Barnidge concludes, “should demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security as a Jewish state” and refuse to “press Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians unless and until that happens.”

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Israel & Zionism, Peace Process, PLO, US-Israel relations, Yasir Arafat