How they see us: Joy and anger over Jerusalem decision
U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem is a victory for Israel and especially for the Jewish settlers’ movement, said Nadav Shragai in Israel Hayom (Israel). By formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last week and by pledging to move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv, Trump has “poured a bucket of ice” on the heads of those who wish to keep Jerusalem divided. As Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said, “There is no better or more beautiful present for the state of Israel in its 70th year of independence.” Trump has recognized the “facts on the ground produced by Israel over time”: that the seat of the Israeli government is in Jerusalem and that some 200,000 Jews now live in East Jerusalem, annexed from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War. “Now we must capitalize on this recognition” and “return to build in Jerusalem,” our eternal and undivided capital.
Facts on the ground do not justify the recognition of an illegal occupation, said Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor in Arab News (Saudi Arabia). There’s a reason why no other country has its embassy in Jerusalem and why the United Nations has refused to recognize Israel’s annexation of Arab-majority East Jerusalem—seen by Palestinians as the capital of a future Palestinian state. If an armed man broke into a house and threw the owners out, “no court would legitimize the theft on the grounds that the thief’s slippers under the bed signified a new reality.” No nation will follow the U.S. in this provocative and counterproductive outrage. Trump has merely succeeded in destroying whatever remaining veneer of credibility the U.S. had as a fair mediator between Israelis and Palestinians.
That means the two-state solution is dead, said Hani Awkal in the Ramallah, West Bank–based Al-Ayyam. The main rival Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, now have but one path forward: They must end their squabbling and “launch an intifada” against the occupation. But where is the Arab world? asked The Daily Star (Lebanon) in an editorial. Protests against Trump’s declaration were perfunctory affairs except in Jordan and Lebanon, which both have large Palestinian populations. And while the Arab League condemned the U.S., it failed to take “any punitive steps,” such as ordering “a boycott of American products or the suspension or downgrading of ties with Washington.”
Perhaps the Arabs realize Trump’s declaration “is sort of fake news,” said Itamar Eichner in Yedioth Ahronoth (Israel). Had Trump really wanted to move the U.S. Embassy, “he could have announced its relocation to a temporary residence in the capital the very next day.” Instead, he said his team would look into it and maybe break ground some years hence, when a new president may be in office. His grand gesture, then, was simply words to placate evangelical Christians in his base—some of whom believe that Jewish control of Jerusalem is key to the fulfillment of biblical prophecy about the End Times. “Trump fooled everyone.” ■