President Donald Trump has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and it absolutely, undeniably is and has been for 70 years. In fact, an American law has said as much since 1995 and past presidents named Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all echoed the indubitable verdict at one time or another.
But, oh, what a Trumpian horror, it’s said.
The U.N. Security Council has condemned Trump’s decision, especially his intent to finally move our embassy from Tel Aviv to where the Israeli government is. That is seen as a kind of conclusiveness, and, with rabble-rousing anger, Palestinian leaders have said it’s no longer going to meet with U.S. representatives to discuss a two-state peace solution with Israel. Other Arab nations in the Middle East are snarling, too, and European leaders are astonished at so flagrant a foul.
Here, we are told, could be a significant setback to peace negotiations, but such setbacks started with the founding of Israel and have been mainly the fault of Palestinians wanting Jewish settlers tossed out or extinguished. In the beginning, the international community mapped out a plan in which Israel and Palestine would get different territories. The Palestinians weren’t having any, went to war in 1948 to get rid of the Israelis and the Israel won enough land to sustain itself.
Part of what Israel captured was the western portion of Jerusalem. It had been declared an international city, but Israel established its capital there despite some still insistent naysayers. In a war with Arab states in 1967, Israel captured the eastern portion of Jerusalem from Jordan along with the West Bank it continues to control militarily.
If the Palestinian leaders thought a two-state solution might include Israel handing over western Jerusalem as a capital for them, they were living in never-never land. However, eastern Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital remains a possibility. Trump said nothing in his remarks about refusing to divide up the city again, and his U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, said the United States would have no objections if the two parties agreed to such a thing.
The real hindrance to the two-state solution is that the Hamas terrorists who run the Palestinian Gaza Strip still see the only answer as the elimination of Israel, occasionally firing missiles to make the point. Then there is the Palestinian Authority representing the Palestinians on the West Bank and its funding of terrorists who visit Israel for fatal purposes. The issue of Jerusalem as the capital is nothing compared to all of this.
Of course, many will tell you that the Jews fleeing Europe after World War II had no right to settle in Israel despite their ages-old holy sites and Jews already there. They say Israel has violated international rules, that it has occupied the West Bank for far too long and that Palestinians there have been badly mistreated.
To say Israel has done no wrong would be fallacious. But look at the context of all of this: the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, tiny Israel surrounded by major Arab states wanting its demise, Israel twice making generous offers to the Palestinians demanding all or nothing, the Palestinian reluctance to even talk to Israelis and the Israeli need for endless self-defense to survive.
What we have in Israel is a self-disciplined, industrious, innovative nation that is humane and democratic despite the endless assaults of a United Nations filled with nations that are no such thing. Israel is one of our best allies, is hugely important to us and deserves our support.
Right now, other Arab nations that are likewise threatened by Iran are considering a closer relationship with this militarily fit nation. It’s said that, if the two-state solution fails, Israel will have to absorb the Palestinians, but there is another suggested solution in which Israel returns much of the West Bank to Jordan, Egypt gets the Gaza Strip and Palestinians work things out with other Arabs.
Jay Ambrose is a columnist for Tribune News Service.
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