When Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak flew to Taba to seal a final and everlasting deal with the Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, Israel’s experienced wise man Shimon Peres advised him not to open the Jerusalem issue if he wanted a deal at all. Barak, a soldier in mind and in soul, was a man of decisive deals, he wanted it all.
He screwed it all.
When both leaders left the Taba Talks blaming one another for its failure, they buried the already paralysed Oslo Agreements once and for all. Neither side was sincere, nor were they ill-advised. Both wanted to accomplish the impossible: divide the indivisible Jerusalem.
What President Trump did by way of moving the United States Embassy to Jerusalem on the 70th anniversary of the Independence Day of Israel had the opposite of the intended result; that is uniting the inherently divided city.
Stones no older than a few hundred years sanctified as if of divine origin; burial sites from Ottoman times attributed to the Biblical era; Jewish, Christian and Muslim saintly stories exchanged in a free market with no concern for authenticity or consistency; and an ever-growing territorial sanctity absurdly following the borders of the Greater Jerusalem Municipality. A city where the past is continuously rewritten for the needs of the future with the material of the present. This is the oxymoronic plight of this modern-day Jerusalem.
The untimely relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem defies all previous U.N. resolutions and international consensus with the exception of Micronesia which gives unconditional support to Israeli policies. In the last 12 years, there were 86 embassies in Tel Aviv and none in Jerusalem. This move also reveals the wilful ignorance of the U.S. President about the centrality of Jerusalem to the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is compounded ignorance if precipitated by the alleged green light given by Saudi Arabia and the Emirates on this Embassy move. Saudi and Emirati Salafi Imams reject the sanctity and holiness of any place; they brand those that do as kafirs, that is disbelievers. The Salafi leading ideologue and theologian Ibn Taymiyah claimed that there is no holy site in Jerusalem. For the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, the Saudi and Gulf leaders are the last Muslims to comment on the acceptability of a compromise on Jerusalem.
This move will destroy the US potential to facilitate a future peace agreement between the Arabs and the Israelis; it will destabilize the pro-American Abbas Regime in the West Bank as the last Palestinian leadership willing to work for peace; it will boost the public support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine and all around the world; it will provide propaganda material to corrupt and authoritarian regimes of the Middle East and will further escalate the already rising anti-Americanism in the Muslim World.
And it will serve no end other than creating an additional problem on the ground that will be difficult to undo for any future creative solution of sovereignty sharing in Jerusalem.