Move the embassy, recognize Jerusalem — then watch the region explode
What the media was protecting was a system in which mealy-mouthed politicians have managed to sustain a status quo that sees Israel and the Palestinians at loggerheads, without any hope for peace. Yet Israel’s government has cleverly and masterfully used that impasse to build alliances with many Arab countries without consequences or accountability.
Israel has been able to use the failure of the peace process as a cover to continue its extremist agenda of expanding illegal settlements and oppressing non-Jews both inside Israel and in the Occupied Territories. The Arabs have never recognized this strategy; that the absence of peace has been beneficial to Israel, and that many American politicians in the Democratic Party have helped sustain this status quo to Israel’s benefit.
Every American politician who has called for peace has done so with a lack of sincerity. By urging peace without substance or concrete steps forward, they have reinforced Israel’s ability to do whatever it wants in Palestine. And Israel has done whatever it wants. It has dramatically increased settlements without any major consequence; it has continued official government policy of confiscating more and more Palestinian lands in the West Bank; and it has continued to oppress Palestinians, tightening its headlock hold on the civilians living in the open air “hell” called the Gaza Strip, while slowly chipping away at Palestinian resistance in the West Bank.
Without the chance of achieving peace, Israel has been able to achieve all of its goals and more, expanding Israel without consequence. But Trump is changing that. Instead of pandering to Israel with fake words of praise for peace, Trump is creating a unique and new environment that will inevitably force change on the region.
Trump was never going to achieve peace through happiness — he was going to do it by throwing up the Middle East “game board” and disrupting a status quo that has been a disadvantage to the Palestinian people.
Trump has promised to push for peace, but he has steadily taken American foreign policy from a position of supporting Israel to a new advanced position of advocating for Israel’s agenda. The fuse that Trump will light that will change the region is his decision to move the US Embassy to the sacred city of Jerusalem, which has been under occupation in part since 1948 and fully occupied since 1967. Israel expelled the Palestinians presence from West Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967, and has been doing the same in East Jerusalem since 1967.
Trump will do what even the most wildly supportive advocates of Israeli colonialism have stopped short of doing. Trump will push the region into a new environment that will change the current status quo in a way Palestinians need most. Palestinians have been lulled into believing that prior American administrations were determined to fight for the two-state solution, but that option was killed by Israel’s right-wing governments immediately after its architect, Yitzhak Rabin, was murdered in 1995. Despite the failure to agree a peace deal, Palestinians have continued to cling to hope because they are the victims of oppression. They have been pushed into a corner where their only hope was to hope for peace, with small bursts of resistance and violence.
President Trump may be taking ‘dangerous steps’ in the peace process but his move will end the status quo and cause devastating change, which is Israel’s worst nightmare.
Trump will change that. He is taking the old game board of phony Middle East peace and throwing it into the air. Moving the embassy will trigger a region-wide enmity and acrimony that will become the basis for Israel’s worst nightmare. Moving the US embassy and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will create an explosion that America and Israel have worked hard to avoid. It is an act that will bring devastating change. The desire to fight for justice has been smothered by false promises of peace.
Yasser Arafat was betrayed after Rabin was murdered — had Rabin lived, we might have had peace today, but the Israeli right made sure that would never happen by assassinating him. It pushed Arafat into a corner, where he withered, powerlessly, and vanished. And with him vanished the Palestinian revolution. No one in the Palestinian or Arab world has managed to recreate the impassioned revolution to force change and seek justice that Arafat masterfully built.
Trump is the new Rabin, but a different kind of Rabin, who will open the door to change. And that change will not be in Israel’s interests, even though they will finally cross the demarcation line of sensibility and push the region into a new turmoil. Instead of opposing Trump’s actions, maybe we should encourage him to do what others have deemed “dangerous steps.”
Move the embassy. Recognize Jerusalem. And then sit back and watch the region explode in anger, protest and a rejection of the state of coma that the fake promise of peace has put on the entire region.
Get ready everyone. The region is about the change.
• Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist. Twitter: @rayhanania
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