UN puts Trump in place
This past week, the great majority of United Nations General Assembly members voted to reject the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital after Washington’s announcement that it would relocate its embassy to the historically contested holy city. By a vote of 128-9, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to condemn the US for its decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
As expected, the Trump administration retaliated furiously by threatening to punish countries that voted against Washington’s stance. The American ambassador to the UN said the US was “taking names” and added that there would be consequences for future relations with Washington.
In line with his strange logic, Trump insisted that America’s role in future peace negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis remain intact. He said it marked the “beginning of a new approach” to the conflict.
No one is really sure if Trump himself believed that or whether the statement was just a way to save face after a humiliating outcome at the General Assembly when pretty much everybody around the world voted to reject his move. While no one really believes Washington has been an honest broker in any of the past initiatives for peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, at least there was an understanding that a US role was needed.
But Trump’s decision pretty much killed any chance of Washington playing a meaningful role in the future.
Besides more or less disqualifying itself from serving as a mediator, the Trump administration went the extra mile to show the world how insensitive he can be towards their feelings and position on the status of Jerusalem, an ancient city with great importance to Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
Palestinians hope that East Jerusalem would become the capital of their future state. The international community believes the status of Jerusalem would be decided under a two-state solution. The world believes Jerusalem’s status should be decided in a final peace agreement between Israel and Palestine.
Not only did Trump effectively tell the world that he didn’t care what they thought, his administration went to the extent of threatening to punish them if they opposed him. Arrogance would be an understatement but that’s what Trump is pretty much about. Look at his approach to the globally critical issue of climate change.He claimed to be putting America first because the rest of the world had been ripping the US off for years. But in reality, he is distancing the US from the rest of the world with just about every one of his actions – from his retreat on climate change to his position on Jerusalem.
The world community deserves praise for telling Trump enough is enough and that bilateral ties cannot be bought with aid money. The Trump government accused the world of violating America’s sovereignty. But in reality, he is repeatedly breaking ranks with them on important issues.
America may be the most powerful country but it is not the only country in the world. There are other respectable global powers that can and should have a place in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Still open for discussion are the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem and the borders between Israel and Palestine, which are yet to be worked out. The building of Israeli settlements in occupied territory is not only illegal in the eyes of much of the world community but a controversial issue even in Israel.
Perhaps it was Trump’s way of telling the world that the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis is a lost cause. But if he does not believe the US should play a role as mediator, then he should let others step up.This controversial politician wanted to be remembered as the first US president to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Unfortunately for him, he will down in history as a man who made things worse.
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