Failing the peace process
Given the large number of casualties and the critically injured among the protestors in Gaza, was the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem necessary? If anything, it was dangerous, reckless, and cruelly insensitive to the people of Palestine. The smiling Israelis and American guests at the opening ceremony on Monday juxtaposed with the deadly protests occurring on Gaza's border, where Israeli military forces killed dozens of unarmed demonstrators, only highlights how removed from reality the Trump administration is. And, the White House's invitation to two Evangelical pastors, both of whom are known for making bigoted remarks toward other faiths, to be a part of the ceremony can only be seen as further evidence of the administration's thoughtlessness. While everyone is weary of hearing "this is the end of the peace process," Trump's decision may indeed be the nail in the coffin for any negotiated solution. In the first place, there is no peace process. It had instead been replaced by Israelis and Palestinians waiting for Trump aides to cook up "the deal of the century" until Donald Trump made his Jerusalem announcement in December. And, the situation has only deteriorated since. From the beginnings of the current 'peace process', there have been fatal flaws that have hampered the effort: the asymmetry of power in Israel's favour and the clear US bias in support of Israel. Trump's action has accented both flaws. It has emboldened and rewarded the most hardline and intransigent elements in Israel while weakening and compromising those Palestinian and Arab leaders who put their trust in the United States. Since the United States under Trump does not even pretend to be an honest broker, the President's follow-up appeal to both sides to continue to focus on achieving peace does not pass any test. What the champions of anti-peace forces in Israel and the United States knew was that Jerusalem was not to be toyed with. For this reason, the architects of the UN partition plan set it aside as an international zone. When Israel annexed a substantial area of Palestinian land in 1967 and declared the entirety of West and East Jerusalem as "Greater Jerusalem," insisting that it was its "eternal undivided capital," once again the international community did not accept this decision. Trump's action, however, puts the US stamp of approval on Israel's record of unilateral decision-making that runs counter to the resolutions of the United Nations and other international bodies. Like the issue of Palestine itself, mention of Jerusalem evokes broken promises, brutal occupation by imperial and colonial powers, loss of control of history and denial of fundamental rights. While frayed tempers simmer down, the main actors must revisit the UN resolutions and abide by them.