U.S. President Donald Trumps decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israels capital could have been joyful news for Israel. But its no coincidence that Israel is the only country in the world whose capital hasnt been recognized by the international community. Jerusalems status remains a core issue in the negotiations for a final-status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
In this sense, disrupting the status quo in the worlds most explosive city is a poisoned gift to the Israeli and Arab peace camp. Its hard to understand how such a move fits with Trumps declarations about his desire to bring about peace in the region, a feat his predecessors in the White House failed to achieve.
Trump boasted that he didnt follow in the footsteps of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who did not change U.S. policy toward Jerusalem. But previous administrations refusal to recognize Jerusalem as Israels capital did not stem from hostility to Israel or excessive sympathy for the Muslims. These administrations heeded the advice of the National Security Council and Israeli defense officials, who warned that a policy change regarding Jerusalem would sabotage the peace process.
The decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israels capital plays into the hands of radical Arab groups, which dont miss an opportunity to portray the two-state solution as deception, and portray the leaders of Egypt and Jordan, the only Arab states that recognize Israel, as collaborators with the enemies of Islam.
The joy of right-wing and centrist leaders is shortsighted. Violating the status quo in Jerusalem, like expanding the settlement enterprise in the West Bank, is moving Israel further from the only possible solution – the two-state solution – and increasing its isolation in the world. Woe is the country that needs the support of a leader like Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.
If the prime minister were a responsible leader, he wouldnt have called on other countries to follow the United States and the Philippines. Instead, he should ask Trump to take steps to advance negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, part of which would consist of recognizing West Jerusalem as Israels capital and East Jerusalem as the Palestinian states capital.
The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel
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