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Vol. 81/No. 48      December 25, 2017

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Washington says will move US Embassy to Jerusalem

President Donald Trump announced Dec. 6 that the U.S. is recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, calling it “a long-overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement” between the Israeli government and Palestinian officials.

He said the U.S. would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but not for three or four years. Trump then signed a waiver required under the 1995 U.S. Jerusalem Embassy Act to officially put off any move during the next six months.

The announcement has stirred a debate over whether the recognition advances or damages possibilities of negotiations that can lead to a settlement. The editors of the New York Times, who like most liberals look at all politics filtered through an anti-Trump lens, charged the president had unnecessarily made concessions to the Israeli government that amounted to support for Israeli annexation of all of Jerusalem.

But Trump had explicitly rejected the call by Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer that he declare an “undivided” Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Instead, he said, “We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders.”

On the heels of the second imperialist world slaughter, the end of Hitler’s genocidal Holocaust against the Jewish people, and Washington and London’s continuing refusal to allow significant Jewish immigration, Jewish leaders declared the state of Israel on Palestinian soil 69 years ago in 1948.

Ever since the semi-feudal Arab regimes tried and failed to crush the newly declared state — and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing the fighting became refugees — the Israeli government has controlled West Jerusalem. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Israeli forces took control of the eastern half of Jerusalem, which was majority Arab, along with the West Bank, until then under Jordanian control.

West Jerusalem is predominantly Jewish. East Jerusalem, including the historic old city, is predominantly Arab, although the Israeli government has encouraged some 200,000 Israelis to settle there.

Jerusalem is home to some of the most revered religious sites for Christians, Muslims and Jews, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Western Wall.

The regime in Tehran, and its supporters Hezbollah in Lebanon, Shia militias in Iraq and Hamas, the reactionary government that governs in the Gaza Strip, declared the opening of new assaults on Israel and the U.S. “Jerusalem, Palestine and the Palestinian people will return to being the priorities,” Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, told a rally in Beirut by video-feed Dec. 11.

Many Palestinians, however, remember how Hezbollah helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad starve Palestinians in the Yarmouk refugee camp when residents had the effrontery to voice support for rebel forces seeking to bring down his dictatorship.

“Today we are witnessing a true intifada,” Nasrallah said, referring back to the mass Palestinian protests that began in 1987 against Israeli repression and rocked the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. But nothing similar is taking place today.

Many Palestinians have been politically demoralized by decades of misleadership from Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and other middle-class organizations that claim to speak for the Palestinian people. Eyewitness reports say that at the peak of the Dec. 8 West Bank demonstrations against Trump’s announcement only a few thousand protested, much smaller than similar actions in the past. By the weekend, the actions were down to the hundreds.

Hamas has never backed off from promoting Jew-hatred, calling for total destruction of Israel. “Israel has no existence on the land of Palestine and thus, needs no capital,” stated Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Political Bureau of Hamas.

Only a handful of rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza since Trump’s announcement, and press reports indicate that the missiles were launched not by Hamas, but by other Islamist groups. “Hamas was making real efforts to prevent” them, the Times of Israel said.

By backing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Washington could no longer mediate peace talks, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Dec. 6. But a few days later, officials of the authority, which governs the West Bank, said that they had no intention of changing their relationship with U.S. officials.

Alliances and relations among the regimes in the Middle East are shifting as Washington, Moscow and governments in the region adjust to the winding down of the imperialist-led war against Islamic State and the fact that the Assad regime remains in power. The axis of the changes is the simmering conflict between the Iranian regime — which made the most gains from its deployment of Tehran-led forces, including Hezbollah, in Syria and Iraq — and the Saudi monarchy, which is moving to “modernize” social relations and capitalist development to more effectively compete with Tehran.

‘We need negotiations’

While the Saudi regime condemned Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, Riyadh is “on board with a broader U.S. strategy for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan” to be announced next year, Reuters reported. The Saudi and Israeli rulers have been expanding ties because of their common interest in countering the growing strength of Tehran.

Jamil Hamadin, a Bedouin Arab, told the Militant by phone from East Jerusalem Dec. 12 that he was concerned that President Trump’s announcement would mean more evictions of Palestinians and Bedouins from lands there. Hamadin and members of his tribe have been fighting eviction orders from the Israeli government for years.

“Israel is building huge settlements and destroying any new building by Palestinians. If we lost Jerusalem that would be a blow,” Hamadin said. “We need to have negotiations. If a Palestinian country with East Jerusalem as its capital is on the table along with West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, that is a possibility for peace.”

Jewish and Arab workers in Israel have been discussing the U.S. announcement. “President Trump is not exactly my cup of tea,” said Haim Sahar, a Jewish worker at Pelephone cellphone company near Tel Aviv.

“But I think in the long term what he did will bring peace. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and now it’s clear you can’t move it. My open-minded Arab friends, we discuss this a lot,” he said. “We know we are going to pay a price for peace. If to have peace there is an embassy in a [Palestinian] East Jerusalem, I don’t care.”

Brian Williams contributed to this article.
Related articles:
SWP: ‘For recognition of a Palestinian state & Israel’
Kurds protest attacks by Tehran-backed militias in Iraq
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