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‘Proclamation’ worries and baffles most Jews


This posting has these items:
1) JC: Trump’s Jerusalem policy shift thrills Israelis — but at what cost?, even the JC asks – but what the Palestinians? ;
2) Guardian: Donald Trump’s Jerusalem statement is an act of diplomatic arson, no two ways about it, from Jonathan Freedland;
3) +972: Explained: What Trump’s Jerusalem declaration will and won’t do lawyer Daniel Seidemann runs through the consequences;
4) Haaretz: The Jerusalem Powder Keg: How Much Will Trump’s Gamble Cost and Will Israel Defuse It, Amos Harel says recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was overdue but Trump did it, not out of love for Israel but so he could say “they only talked, I did it”. And so the Arab population is reduced to a meaningless mass;
5) Haaretz: Trump Handed Netanyahu a Victory in the Battle to Crush Palestinian Nationalism, Aluf Benn says both Trump and Netanyahu are masters of the symbolic and ignoring the Palestinians is very symbolic;
6) WP: Trump’s actions could rip Jerusalem apart, Gershom Gorenberg says Jerusalem is a symbol for most people; for those who live there it’s a mixed, living, city;
7) National Interest: Jerusalem and the Follies of Trump’s Embrace, Daniel Levy asks ‘why now’ and answers ‘it’s more about the mid-West than the mid-East’;
8- Forward: Trump’s Jerusalem Move Is A Ploy To Protect Jared Kushner, one of the best pieces, by Yossi Alpher;
9) Forward: Announcement A Missed Opportunity, loyal former US ambassador to Israel says he’s ‘uncertain’;
10) CounterPunch: Jerusalem, Partition, Justice and Peace;



This is my proclamation: President Trump holds up the verbal expression of his decision to formally recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to relocate the U.S. Embassy to that city. Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency-EFE

Trump’s Jerusalem policy shift thrills Israelis — but at what cost?

Wednesday’s US policy shift reduced the Palestinians to a sideshow

By Anshel Pfeffer, Jewish Chronicle
December 06, 2017

“My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,” US President Donald Trump said as he began his address on Wednesday in the White House.

For once, he totally delivered on his words.

The Trump Proclamation on recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel had everything Israeli governments have dreamed of hearing in the White House, and never imagined they would.

It adopted all the talking-points long used by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Jerusalem’s historic centrality to the Jewish people, with barely a passing nod to any Palestinian claims on the city or the land.

It detached the issue of Jerusalem from the broader picture of the diplomatic process. It mentioned none of the central tenets of US foreign policy stretching back decades. There was no mention of the 1967 borders and nothing about the settlements.

The proclamation could easily have been written by Mr Netanyahu’s veteran aide Ron Dermer, the current Israeli ambassador to the US. To some extent it probably was, as Mr Dermer currently enjoys the best access of any diplomat to the White House and the president’s inner circle.

It is, all in all, an incredible diplomatic coup for Mr Netanyahu.

The only concession to diplomatic orthodoxy was Mr Trump’s admission that the two-state solution was still a viable option, if both sides wanted it to be.

The one sentiment …shared this week by every Palestinian in Jerusalem was a feeling of abandonment

But one great question mark looms over Mr Trump’s speech. How does he expect to square the overwhelmingly pro-Israel tone of his speech with his stated aspiration to achieve the “greatest deal of all” — a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians?

Sceptics will take this as proof that the president was never serious about it. There is, however, a view in Jerusalem and Washington that Mr Trump is exercising his own characteristic style of brinkmanship, proving to both sides that he is willing to ditch the established consensus.

So far that has been demonstrated towards the Palestinians. But there may be elements of the much talked about Trump plan that are far less palatable to the Israeli right wing.

But will the Palestinians now even be willing to come to the table and negotiate? The big unknown is the Palestinian reaction. In the short-term, will we see a violent backlash in Jerusalem and the West Bank? And further down the road, will the Palestinian leadership agree to the Trump administration acting as brokers in the diplomatic process?

Fatah and other Palestinian organisations announced three “days of rage”. As the JC went to press, the rage has largely been in the statements by Palestinian spokespeople. This could be partly due to the fact that the Trump hoopla coincided with the first day of real winter in Jerusalem and the West Bank: demonstrations in the Middle East don’t usually kick off in heavy rain.


Israeli police officers try to remove a Palestinian flag from Palestinian women protesting outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem Old City, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Photo by AP
See also Analysis Trump handed Netanyahu a victory in the battle to crush Palestinian nationalism

Israel’s security chiefs have prepared contingency plans for possible escalation on the ground and are looking at Friday, following the noon prayers at the Al Aqsa mosques, as a potential moment when riots could start. The current intelligence assessments are that the Palestinian leadership is not yet prepared to relaunch the Intifada and there is scant appetite for it among the wider Palestinian public.

But the one sentiment that seemed to be shared this week by every Palestinian in Jerusalem was a feeling of abandonment by the international community and by the Arab World.

No one doubted President Trump’s announcement could have been made without the tacit agreement of the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The clearest conclusion from the US policy shift is that the Palestinian issue is at the lowest it has been on the global priorities list for decades, with the Palestinians reduced to a sideshow.




The ‘nuclear core’ , Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, Old City, Jerusalem

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem statement is an act of diplomatic arson

The US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel turns a naked flame on the single most combustible issue in the conflict

By Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
December 06, 2017

Not content with taking the US to the brink of nuclear conflict with North Korea, Donald Trump is now set to apply his strategy of international vandalism to perhaps the most sensitive geopolitical hotspot in the world. With a speech scheduled for later today that’s expected to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and reaffirm a pledge to move the US embassy to the city, he is walking into a bone-dry forest with a naked flame.

For the status of Jerusalem is the most intractable issue in what is often described as the world’s most intractable conflict. It is the issue that has foiled multiple efforts at peacemaking over several decades. Both Israelis and Palestinians insist that Jerusalem must be the capital of their states, present and future, and that that status is non-negotiable.

But it’s not just important to them. The Old City of Jerusalem contains the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest mosque in Islam, to say nothing of its enormous significance to Christians, meaning that even the slightest move there is felt by billions. It is a place where diplomats have learned to tread with extreme care. There is a reason why no US administration, no matter how pro-Israel, has changed its policy toward the city in the nearly 70 years since Israel’s founding.

But here comes Trump, oblivious to precedent and indeed history – even in a place where history is a matter of life and death – stomping through this delicate thicket, trampling over every sensitivity. The risk is obvious, with every Arab government – including those loyal to Washington – now issuing sharp warnings on the perils of this move, almost all of them using the same word: “dangerous”.


Photographer Hazem Bader of AFP catches a soldier spoiling for a fight in Hebron after Friday prayers, December 7th.

Let us be clear. Most advocates of an eventual two-state solution believe the only way to resolve the Jerusalem issue is for it to serve as the capital of both states: East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Then, and only then, would be the right moment to start moving embassies and issuing statements of recognition. Until that day, any act that pre-empts an agreement between the two parties on the city’s future is reckless and needlessly incendiary.

Recall that the second intifada – which turned into a bloody two or more years of death for Israelis at the hands of Palestinian suicide bombers, and death for Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli military – started after a 45-minute visit in late 2000 by the then leader of the Israeli opposition, Ariel Sharon, to the place that represents the nuclear core of this most radioactive conflict, the site Muslims call the Haram al-Sharif and Jews call the Temple Mount. Bear that in mind when you hear the Palestinian ambassador to London say that Trump’s move amounts to “declaring war on 1.5 billion Muslims”.

Why is Trump doing it? Perhaps he wants to show that he’s honouring his campaign pledges: now, along with his tax cut for the rich and his travel ban from mainly Muslim countries, he can tick the box marked Jerusalem. He said he would do it, and now he’s doing it, and to hell with the consequences. That’s a style of politics his base – including those Christian evangelicals hawkish on Israel – seems to like.

© Copyright JFJFP 2017