The Message behind American Recognition of Israeli Sovereignty over Jerusalem

Dec. 14 2017

By refusing to acknowledge the location of Israel’s capital, generations of U.S. presidents and foreign-policy professionals have demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of what lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Douglas Feith explains:

Part and parcel of [Palestinian] thinking is the depiction of Israel as a foreign intrusion into the region. It is called a “Crusader state” and analogized to European colonialist outposts, such as French Algeria. The point is that the Israelis, like the Crusaders in the Middle Ages and the French a half-century ago, can be demoralized through relentless violent resistance and induced to pack up and leave the land to its true owners, the Arabs. . . .

The conventional wisdom for decades has held that the heart of the Arab-Israeli problem is the territory that Israel won in 1967 and the Israeli settlements there. But it should be obvious that that’s wrong. Why did Egypt, Syria, and Jordan provoke the 1967 war to begin with? In fact, the conflict goes back long before 1967—it even predates 1948, when Israel became an independent state. . . .

If this analysis is correct, then U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem might contribute to peace. It reinforces useful messages: Israel is here to stay. The Jews are deeply historically connected to the land and are not foreigners or Crusaders. The U.S.-Israeli connection is tight and not subject to manipulation by Israel’s enemies. . . . There is a price to be paid for perpetuating the conflict: life goes on, the Israelis create new realities, and the world in general adjusts to those realities. The Palestinians do not improve their position—or even preserve it—by remaining unwilling to make peace.

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