Such a move, while reinforcing the United States’ position as Israel’s pre-eminent ally, would also correct a longstanding injustice and send a powerful message to the Palestinians about the future direction of the peace process.
To be sure, for Israelis, as well as most Jews around the world and our millions of Christian supporters, it is a given that Jerusalem is the heartbeat, soul and eternal capital of the Jewish people. This message though needs to be also reinforced to our Palestinian neighbors.
However, like clockwork, no sooner than speculation began circling that President Trump is set to make the announcement, making good on his pre-election promises of recognizing “Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel” and “moving the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people” the Palestinians have been predictably up-in-arms.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has threatened that peace talks will be “dead” if the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Hamas has called for an “intifada,” while the Arab League has warned that such a move would “fuel violence.”
Newsflash: The PA has not exactly been engaged in “peace talks” for quite some time now, while the failure to date of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s rightful capital has not prevented the Palestinians from waging an incessant campaign of terror, violence and intifadas against the Jewish state.
Enough is enough! The United States and the international community must no longer remain hostage to Palestinian threats, extortion and intimidation. President Trump should lead by example in this regard, by not only sending a powerful message to the Palestinians, but doing what is right and just, in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.
Such an act would further shatter the Palestinian delusions, calls of incitement and delegitimization propaganda that Jews have no connection to Jerusalem.
It would also send an unequivocal message to those in the international community, such as UNESCO, to halt their continuing acquiescence and encouraging of this incitement and blatant denial of history.
President Trump has long professed his desire to reach the “ultimate deal” of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The conventional wisdom has been that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would hamper this effort, as the Palestinians continue to threaten.
There are also some who suggest this would impede Trump’s efforts to establish a regional coalition to fight terrorism in the Middle East, specifically against the Islamic State.
The reality, however, is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long ceased to be a top priority for the Arab and Gulf states, which are today more concerned with a nuclear Iran and rampaging ISIS than the geographic location of Israel’s capital. According to the latest report from the NY Times, even the highly influential Saudis have proposed to the Palestinians an alternate capital, not Jerusalem, but the adjoining suburb of Abu Dis.
It is noteworthy that since 1967, every US President has more or less sought to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but each has failed—not for lack of effort, but due largely to Palestinian rejectionism and intransigence. Jerusalem has just been a handy excuse for the Palestinians.
Despite Trump’s best intentions, there is no indication that the Palestinians’ position under the present leadership, including in which Palestinian President Abbas continues to use US aid money to pay convicted terrorists and has sought to embrace the terrorist organization Hamas, has changed.
Simply put, there is never a wrong time to do what is right, just and moral. Although this past year Israel celebrated 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem, the Jewish people’s historic, legal and inextricable bond to this holy city extends well over 3,000 years.
It remains an absurd anomaly that Jerusalem is the only world capital not recognized by the international community, and in which Israel, unlike every sovereign nation under international law, has been denied its inalienable right to designate its own capital.
Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people—and only the Jewish people—throughout recorded history. It is mentioned more than 850 times in the Bible, yet not once in the Quran. Jews end their High Holy Day prayers with the words “Next Year in Jerusalem,” where the city today has also become the seat of Israel’s parliament, government, judiciary and national institutions.
There is no real impediment precluding Trump’s recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In fact, Congress has even mandated so in its 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, calling on Jerusalem to remain an undivided city and for it to be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.
Just as Jerusalem is the burning light of the Jewish soul, there could be no better time or more powerful an opportunity to celebrate the unique history of Israel and the Jewish people, while reaffirming the unshakable bond between Israel and the United States, than to reaffirm and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal and undisputed capital.
Arsen Ostrovsky is an international human rights lawyer.