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Is there a way forward?!

Dec 28,2017 - Last updated at Dec 28,2017

Much has been said, by way of condemnation, about the Trump administration’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and about its recognition of Jerusalem as the “undivided capital” of Israel.

The world has spoken: 14 countries out of 15 have objected to the decision at the UN Security Council, and 128 against 9 at the UN General Assembly.

The numbers speak for themselves, and the US and Israel need to listen to the voice of reason and to the world.

The least that can be said about the Trump administration’s ill-informed and ill-timed decision is that it counterproductive.

For some time, the current Israeli government has been callously disregarding and actively working to subvert the peace process. The previous US administration, that of Barak Obama, was heavily criticised for its reticence towards the Israeli government's stark violation of the rights of Palestinians under occupation and towards its insistence to abort the two-state solution by expanding or building more illegal settlements into occupied Palestinian territories.

Instead of taking a moral stand against such Israeli practices, the Trump administration, in a totally unprecedented move, has not only effectively condoned these practices but appears, in fact, to have sided with the Netanyahu government in these and other matters.

How can the Trump administration contribute to the cause of peace if, prior to any peace initiative that it intends or plans to launch, it aligns itself totally with one side of the conflict?

Such an implausible move worries a lot of people in both the Arab world and the world at large.

But there are other negative consequences to what appears to be a miscalculated decision by the Trump administration.

Among them is the alienation of America's allies in the region. There are many Arab regimes who have taken a lot of risk, often against a counter-argument from their people, in believing that they can negotiate a fair deal with Israel, through American's intervention.

What happens to these regimes now when the Israeli government seems to have understood the Trump administration's position on Jerusalem as a clear signal to go ahead not only with Judaising all of Jerusalem and expanding illegal settlements, but with liquidating the idea of the two-state solution?

How do these Arab regimes feel when Israel and America have pulled the carpet from under their feet?  What can they say to their people, who have always cautioned against full trust in Israel's and America's ability to deliver a fair deal?

There are other bad consequences for the American administration's move.

But the more important question to address is: Is there a way forward, after what has been said and done?

Prior to this late unfortunate stunt, the Trump administration had declared the intention to bring about peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

How does it hope to proceed in this direction now that it has shot itself in the foot?

This is extremely difficult as the Trump administration has almost lost its credibility as an interlocutor and a patron of peace. "Almost".

However, it is not too late for the Trump administration to rectify its historic, milestone error.

The sensible thing to do is to rescind its decision on Jerusalem, which the entire world is telling it to do, through both the votes at the UN and popular reactions in the street worldwide.

If this proves to be difficult, at least in the short term, then it may start by doing two things — together.

The first is to qualify and clarify its position on Jerusalem by stating clearly and unequivocally that what it meant by Jerusalem was West Jerusalem only, as East Jerusalem in its entirety belongs to the future Palestinian state.

The second is to reshuffle its so-called Mideast peace team, bringing in instead individuals with experience as well as with balanced and informed views.

The current team, many of whose members are advocates and supporters of illegal settlements and illegal occupation and usurpation, cannot be honest brokers. Who is the Trump administration kidding?

Maybe these two steps could be a start. 

We say maybe, because the Trump administration, in taking such an unfortunate move, has caused more damage that it probably realise: To the Palestinian cause, to its Arab allies, to the international community, to itself, and even to Israel.


No one will ultimately benefit from one-sided decisions.

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