The New American Embassy Punctures the Fantasy of an International Jerusalem

Today, the U.S. will officially open its new embassy in Jerusalem. Nadav Shragai explains what this event does, and does not, signify:

[T]he transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem is another nail in the coffin in which [the Trump administration] placed UN Resolution 181 of November 29, 1947, which called for the internationalization of Jerusalem [along with the partition of Mandatory Palestine into Jewish and Arab states]. This metaphorical coffin is the consequence of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 6, 2017. Now, it would seem, [internationalization] is being laid to rest in its grave. . . .

At the same time, to put matters into proportion, it is worth stating [that], contrary to the lamentations and threats of war on the Palestinian side, but also in contrast to the fanfare and sense of victory on the Israeli side, this is neither cause for another Nakba [“catastrophe”] for the Palestinians nor a second November 29, 1947 celebration for Israel. The embassy transfer is primarily a snapshot of the situation and de jure recognition of what already exists de facto: Jerusalem, and definitely its western part, where the United States is now putting its embassy, is the capital of Israel. The United States, as opposed to most other countries in the world, recognizes this reality and has given it recognition and its seal of approval.

Does this mean that the concept of the internationalization of Jerusalem will never be tossed back into the international arena in the future? No. . . . At the same time, the fact that a power like the United States has effectively erased the internationalization option with regard to the entire area of Jerusalem is very significant. . . .

[Meanwhile], the Arab world is divided. The (comparative) silence of Egypt and the Saudis on [the transfer of the embassy], which Jordan has also joined, have made it easier for President Trump to go through with it. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan will also benefit from generous future economic and military aid from the Trump administration. They are part of the coalition that Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu are building against Iran and the organizations and countries that are helping it, including Hizballah, Hamas, Syria, and Turkey. The Saudis and Egyptians have expressed formal opposition to Trump’s actions, but they have been careful not to push the boundaries on this issue. Jordan, which at first appeared to join in with Turkey, has taken a step or two back.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem, Jordan, U.S. Foreign policy

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary], approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat