On December 7th, in a short speech, Donald Trump announced his decision to move the embassy of the United States from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Here’s some interesting information that will shed light on the decision:
- The U.S became the only country in the world to assert an intention to establish an embassy in the city, breaking with international consensus that the status of Jerusalem is to be decided through bilateral negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Under this consensus, it is agreed that no unilateral action should be taken by any party in respect to the city’s status.
- The decision represents recognition by the U.S of Israel’s unlawful annexation of Jerusalem. U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 required the “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied…” which includes Jerusalem.
- The acquisition of territory by force or threat of force is a breach of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, which in turn establishes a binding obligation on third party states to cooperate to bring to an end the unlawful annexation, as well as to refuse to recognize the situation and to render neither aid nor assistance in support of the situation. The decision of the Trump administration to move the U.S embassy to Jerusalem is therefore a rejection of state customary practice and a display of contempt for international law.
- Trump has also surrounded himself with key advisors who boast clear and unapologetic sympathies to Israel and its ongoing colonization of Palestinian territory. In September 2017, for instance, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman declared that only 2 percent of the West Bank is occupied and that settlements are part of Israel.
- Meanwhile, the man assigned by Trump to oversee delivery of a Middle East peace process – his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was recently shown to be a co-director of an organization that has diverted tens of thousands of dollars to Israeli settler groups. Such appointments strip any last remnants of credibility from the notion that the U.S can act as independent and impartial mediator in any ‘peace process’.
- In addition, the Embassy move demonstrates that the Palestinian Authority and its 82-year-old President, Mahmoud Abbas, now entering his 12th year of rule over the Palestinian people, have never been more paralyzed. This paralysis leaves the Palestinian people dangerously exposed.
- The timing of the U.S decision highlights the impact of the series of vicious conflicts that have plagued the Middle East since the Arab Spring, leaving a darkness over the Palestinian issue much deeper than the light that once shone upon it.
- Meanwhile, the U.S decision comes at a time when Israeli investigations into allegations of corruption concerning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his family are progressing. This raises concerns that the decision was intended to serve, at least in part, as a means of distracting from these allegations.
- From the U.S perspective, it is now an opportune time to align its policy with decades of an Israeli unilateralism that has violated dozens of UN resolutions and continually contravenes international law. It is simply another display of the dangerous and provocative philosophy of might-makes-right.