Opinion

Toward Israeli-Palestinian Peace: The Two-embassy Solution

By opening U.S. embassies in both Israeli west Jerusalem and Palestinian east Jerusalem, Trump would be fulfilling two promises: transferring the embassy and advancing the resolution of the conflict.

US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 22, 2017.
RONEN ZVULUN/AFP

Donald Trump doesn’t want to sign yet again the order delaying the transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem, so that people don’t say again that he’s broken another election promise. On the other hand, he understands that the transfer of the embassy at this point will have implications for the Palestinian, Arab and Moslem arenas and endanger the two-state solution, as Jordan’s King Abdullah explained in a Jordanian newspaper. Thus, instead of moving the embassy, Trump prefers for now to “consider when and how to make the transfer.”

Everyone knows that the two-state solution involves the division of Jerusalem. Therefore, moving the embassy without an agreement is an act of defiance aimed at the Palestinians, which will weaken the status of Mahmoud Abbas and strengthen extremists on both sides. However, in a scenario of a peace agreement and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, one could easily imagine a transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem, since one may assume that American embassy would also be set up at the same time in the Palestinian capital, in the eastern sector of the city.

So why doesn’t Trump open two embassies now, one in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, and one in Al Quds, the capital of the future Palestine? He would thus be fulfilling two promises: transferring the embassy and advancing the resolution of the conflict, since this would demarcate a clear goal, creating facts on the ground for both sides.

The world has in fact already divided Jerusalem – the promoters of the Giro d’Italia 2018 cycling race, for example, announced that the race will start in “Western Jerusalem.” Even the right wing in Israel has started preparing for the city’s division. An amendment to the Basic Law: Jerusalem, signed by ministers Naftali Bennett and Zeev Elkin, which will allow the severance of Palestinian neighborhoods lying beyond the separation barrier from the capital, was endorsed by the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. This is but a demographic manipulation, intended to prevent a future scenario in which hordes of Arabs converge on municipal voting stations and take over the municipality. But where is the logic in this? First you annex, then you sever? In practice, the plan for municipal disengagement from Arab neighborhoods unintentionally lays the groundwork for national disengagement as well.

That is why the second part of the amendment includes a clause stipulating that a supermajority of 80 Knesset members will be required for approving the transfer of land in Jerusalem – even in areas already severed from the city – to a foreign entity, including Palestinians. They are afraid. The right is trying to contravene the laws of nature through legislation. The bigger the sense of a demographic threat, the more intense the legislation. In the long run it has no chance of succeeding. Ultimately, their wish for racial purity will overcome their lust for land, and since the earth won’t swallow the Palestinians, the right will bring about a disengagement that will pave the way for a separation into two states.

The same dynamic applies to the “settlement blocs.” For the settlers, devoted to the Greater Land of Israel, any annexation is a further stage in the phased plan of a creeping annexation, as in “Ma’aleh Adumim first.” In contrast, people espousing the two-state solution can think of the annexation of the blocs from the opposite standpoint: “Ma’aleh Adumim last,” as described by Einat Wilf (“Why Jerusalem Would Be Better Off Divided, May 25, Haaretz.com), who talked about annexation of the blocs and the demarcation of a final eastern border for Israel as the basis for a two-state solution. The same thing goes for Jerusalem: two embassies for two nations, as a basis for two states.

In the turmoil of tweets and legal clashes one mustn’t forget that the struggle is over a decent and just solution. Facts on the ground could be an infrastructure for opposing possibilities, contingent only on the goodwill of both nations. Is there a sufficient amount of this?