Ramallah
© Abbas Momani / AFP
Palestinian protesters take cover from tear gas during clashes with Israeli troops near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on December 7, 2017
Yesterday, Trump made good on his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Given that the whole world (minus Israel) is against him - along with international law - he moderated his decision slightly by delaying the decision to move the U.S. embassy there for six months. Predictably, his decision has been unanimously condemned by pretty much everyone not a raving Zionist - and that includes so-called allies of the U.S. (again minus Israel).

As Piers Morgan put it yesterday in the Daily Mail,
"Today, President Donald Trump has taken a million-ton barrel of oil and tipped it all over the Middle East."
Russian MPs made similar comments:
"Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and the plan to relocate the US embassy [in Israel] to this city is a continuation of a string of provocations in American foreign policy, which we are continuously witnessing in relation to Syria, Iran and North Korea, among others," said Leonid Slutsky, head of the State Duma Committee for International Relations, RIA Novosti reported on Thursday. The lawmaker also noted in his comments that Trump's move could potentially "explode the situation in the zone of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Head of the Upper House Committee for Information Policy, Senator Aleksey Pushkov, wrote on Twitter that the US president's decision was a global shock with potentially dire consequences. "The whole world except for Israel is in a state of shock because of Trump's decision. He has brought a new fuse to the old powder keg. I am confident that this is not the last shock," he said.
Dmitry Peskov gave the Kremlin's reaction:
"What is to be done? We have to continue to search for a diplomatic solution, though, the situation definitely became complicated." The Russian ambassador to Israel reaffirmed that Jerusalem's status will not be determined by some guy in the U.S., but rather as agreed upon in "direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations".
Hilariously, the Israeli Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Zeev Elkin called on Russia to consider moving its embassy to Jerusalem. It's hard to tell if Elkin is joking, or just a bit funny in the head.

Trump got similar responses from the UK:


Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry called Trump's decision "sheer recklessness":
"Donald Trump is not crying fire in a crowded theater, he is deliberately setting fire to the theater," Emily Thornberry told the British Parliament on Thursday, in an urgent question to the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Minister of State. "For all of us in this house, and beyond, who have worked tirelessly for decades in the hope of lasting peace in the Middle East, yesterday's decision took an absolute hammer-blow..."

"Before [December 6], no other country would locate their embassy in Jerusalem, and no other major country would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, because to do either, let alone both at the same time, confers legitimacy on Israel's occupation in East Jerusalem," Thornberry said, calling Israel's control of Jerusalem "an occupation with no basis in international law, a permanent barrier to achieving the political settlement that we all wish."

Thornberry said the "sheer recklessness" of the Trump decision needs no debate, adding that the POTUS had "the unbelievable cheek to claim that he's doing this to move forward the peace process, when in reality he is setting it back decades."
...
Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt denounced Trump's decision, telling fellow MPs that peace could be "derailed," and that Britain would make no change to its "clear and long-standing" policy of keeping the UK embassy in Tel Aviv. He also shot down calls from the opposition to revoke Trump's invitation for a state visit by Trump next year.
PM May refused to back Trump, calling his decision "unhelpful".

China's foreign minister: "We support an independent Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital."


Trump has managed to push away his non-Israeli Middle Eastern "allies" even further. Turkey is threatening to cut off relations with Israel. Protests sprung up immediately in Turkey, Palestine and Jordan. In Iraq, which has grown closer to Iran over the years of U.S. intervention, occupation and "military assistance", one of the powerful Popular Mobilization Units units, Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba (10,000-strong), has even said that the decision provides a legitimate reason to target American forces. But the fire is just getting started.

Palestinians are already in the streets, calling for "three days of rage". Today, Hamas's leader, Ismail Haniyeh, called for a new intifada:
"We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada in the face of the Zionist enemy," said Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, in a speech in Gaza Thursday, Reuters reports.
Fatah issued a similar statement:
"This fierce and systematic attack on Jerusalem, which is being launched by Israel... This attack seeks to erase the Arabic and Islamic existence in the city and Judaise it, as well as change the geographic and demographic reality in a way that serves the expansionist Israeli interests."

The statement added: "Jerusalem is the gate to war and peace. Continuous escalation against its Arabic identity is considered an alarm of war and this abandons all international agreements and conventions."

Such an American step, the statement said, gives a "political and legal legitimacy" to the occupation and "enables it to control the holy sites without any observer".
Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah also backed the call for a new intifada:
"The most important response would be a Palestinian uprising and an Islamic summit that would declare Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Palestine," Nasrallah said, as quoted by Lebanon's Naharnet TV.

"We support the call for a new Palestinian intifada [uprising] and escalating the resistance which is the biggest, most important and gravest response to the American decision," he added.

Nasrallah also called for unity and support for the resistance among Muslims in the face of Wednesday's announcement by President Donald Trump.

Nasrallah pointed out that Washington disregarded the Palestinians "although it is the guarantor of the agreements" between Israel and the Palestinians. Trump, by his announcement, told Israel that Jerusalem "is for you, and it is under your sovereignty," Hezbollah's leader said.

He warned that Muslim people and their sacred sites in the city, including the al-Aqsa Mosque, are now in "extreme danger."

"Do not be surprised if one day we wake up to find al-Aqsa Mosque demolished," Nasrallah declared calling for a Monday rally in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. "What will be the fate of the Palestinian residents in Jerusalem? What will be the fate of the Palestinian properties in Jerusalem? Will they be appropriated or demolished?"
So, all in all, a good move, right? Alienate practically the entire civilized world (minus Israel once more), stir up tensions, potentially provoke more violence in a region that has essentially been at war since European Jews colonized the region and ethnically cleansed it of its Arab population.

Right on schedule, today there are reports that two "rockets" were launched from Gaza toward Israel. Israelis were predictably triggered, thanks to the Israeli "Siren App" which warns of such rocket attacks. But, like practically all such rockets, they didn't hit their target. No, rather than harmlessly land in the desert as they usually do (after which Israel retaliates by killing a bunch of Palestinians with high-grade, "precision" weapons), these rockets didn't even make it out of Gaza.

So far, the only people to support Trump's move are Trump himself, the Israelis, and two types of American: those who have made their careers being bribed and blackmailed by Israel into supporting Israel-first policies, and those who have been brainwashed into the belief that Israel is a democracy and that anything that happens there has any significance whatsoever to their own lives. Oh, and this guy:


That's right: Donald Rumsfeld, who is still under the mistaken impression that anyone takes him seriously, is giggling about how wrong 'the elites' are on this. Let's check in with American evangelical Christians and see what they have to say:
A prominent US evangelical Christian leader spoke to Sputnik about why Trump's decision brings humanity closer to "the end of days" and the Second Coming of the Messiah.
...
Dr. David Reagan, the founder and director of the Texas-based Lamb and Lion Ministries, spoke to Sputnik and said he welcomed Mr. Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"I totally support his decision because Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, always has been for 4,000 years. The Jews have had that as their capital and it has never ever in all of history been the capital of another state, not a Muslim state or an Arab state. It is long overdue. Every US president has made a promise to move the embassy as part of their campaign and then as soon as they're elected they forget about it. But this is a good indication that Trump will keep his campaign promises," Dr. Reagan told Sputnik.
...
"Evangelical Christians in America generally agree that most likely there will be a war against Israel which the scriptures call the 'war of annihilation' in which all the Muslim nations which have a common border with Israel, will attack Israel and Israel will defeat them. Then the Arab world will go into a panic and cry out for Russia to come to their aid. And the Russians will come down with a specified group of Muslim nations, countries like Persia (Iran) and Turkey and they will be destroyed on the mountains of Israel," Dr. Reagan told Sputnik.
Yeah, fact-check: if that scenario plays out, it'll be curtains for Israel.

So, true believers aside, the consensus is that the move portends chaos.

Is it at all possible that Trump is onto something constructive here? Let's face it, the 'peace process' has been dead-in-the-water for decades. Israel will never give up the land it stole. It has thoroughly entrenched itself in the occupied territories. It has vowed never to leave the West Bank. It is a nuclear power (a rogue one, mind you) with advanced weaponry and would rather take the world down with it than give up even an inch of ground (Israel's 'Samson option'). In the deal-making world, it holds all the cards: international law may be against Israel, but it has managed to get away with murder (literally) for generations, proving to itself and the world that international law is Might Makes Right, and that if you play your cards right, there will be no consequences of any significance.

What does all this mean? That there will never be a two-state solution. There isn't enough of Palestine left to make a state, and Israel will never concede to the slightest Palestinian demands. Every U.S. president inherits the 'duty' to try and solve the 'Israeli-Palestinian' conflict. And every U.S. president to date has done squat in that regard, usually due to Israeli blocking. The one thing the Israelis have always avoided like the plague is honestly coming to the negotiating table. Life is easier for Israeli politicians when they have an intractable foreign enemy that 'does not recognize Israel's right to exist' and somehow manages to carry out terror attacks right when Israel needs them most to scupper the threat of real peace talks.

Since a two-state solution is obviously not an option at this point, then what is? A one-state solution. Assuming Trump even thinks that far ahead, here's how that might play out:

Make the first step towards giving the Israelis what they have always claimed they wanted: a state of their own, without a Palestine. But it will obviously have to include the Palestinians as (at least nominally) equal citizens. After all, Israel claims to be the only (Westernized) democracy in the Middle East, and Israel would be naturally required to treat all of its citizens equally. And it will have a vested interest in doing so because a sovereign state in conflict with its own citizens does not look good to the 'international community', does not encourage foreign investment, and makes life hard for Israeli Jews and Palestinians alike.

Of course, getting the Palestinians to agree to live in a state officially called Israel, part of which would be on historically Palestinian land, might be somewhat difficult. But it's not impossible. Northern Ireland stands as an example of how an oppressed people can decide to call a permanent ceasefire in a 'long war', swallow their pride (to an extent) and play the 'long political game'. In Northern Ireland, that investment in peace with an undeserving partner now looks like it might be paying off.

Currently, Israel's population of 8.7 million is 20% Muslim. Palestine's population is about 4.5 million, with an estimated 4 million Palestinians living in refugee camps in neighboring countries. Do the math. Within 10 years, the population living in the former British Palestine is estimated to be majority Palestinian/Arab - and that's not counting the refugees. How much justification will there be for a 'Jewish State' that is less than 50% Jewish?

As Neil Godfrey put it over at Vridar:
In one sense, though, this is progress, if we are prepared to measure the pace of progress in generations rather than months or years.

It makes it all the more inevitable that one day Israel is going to have no option but to grant full citizenship and equal rights to all Arabs living in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza as part of a single nation. (Despite occasional meaningless echoes to the contrary, the two-state possibility is surely long dead.)

One day Israel is going to have to decide to become a "normal" democratic nation, not a racial one built on an unjust occupation. The wall will have to come down one day.
Either Israel is forced (diplomatically, it can't be done militarily) to act civilized, or it descends into further barbarity, which will create even more pressure for it to act civilized.