By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi
May 24, 2018
THE US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, on last Monday kicked off the embassy opening proceedings by recalling the declaration of the state of Israel by the country’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, on May 14, 1948.“Seventy years later, the United States is taking the next step of moving the embassy to Jerusalem,” he said. To the Palestinians, the so-called embassy move is nothing but an unwarranted US- Israeli attempt to extend the boundaries of Jerusalem into Israel. Yet the bitter truth that must be acceptable to both Trump and Netanyahu is that Al-Quds is the core of Palestinians’ future state. They will never compromise on its sovereignty. To preserve the traditional sovereignty of East Jerusalem, and to protect the sanctity of Al-aqsa is the moral obligation of all the Muslims.
The thousands of Palestinians massed at the border are in their seventh week of protests calling for the right of return to land that is now part of Israel. 64 Gazans have been brutally killed by the Israeli Defence forces (IDF).The Gazans are also protesting the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which is suffering from a stifling Israeli and Egyptian blockade. Palestinians said the overwhelming majority of those killed were unarmed demonstrators. The UNHRC has taken the right and justified decision of sending an investigation team regarding Israel’s war crimes in Gaza.
The international community considers East Jerusalem (Al Quds) occupied territory. The Palestinians want to officially divide the city and make East Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian state. The Israelis disagree — and the right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long made clear that it wouldn’t consider making concessions over Jerusalem. This version of Israel’s apartheid regime is not acceptable to the Palestinians. They are striving to preserve the sovereignty of Al-Quds.
Despite the fact that Israel has at all times been a military occupier, it has acted in Jerusalem as if it was a sovereign power. It has annexed both the modern section and the Old City, transformed its demography, physical features and historic character and taken several other measures in violation of the city’s legal status, of international law and of United Nations resolutions. The succession of illegalities, which Israel has committed in Jerusalem, culminated on 30 July 1980, when Israel adopted a law proclaiming the city as its eternal capital.
This action was condemned by the Security Council resolution no. 478 on 20 August 1980. Finally, Israel’s occupation and annexation of Jerusalem violate the sovereignty of the Palestinians. Such occupation and annexation do not, and cannot, affect or extinguish the inalienable rights of the Palestinians over Jerusalem. The sovereignty of the Palestinians is of a nature that cannot be legally lost or destroyed. As the French Constitution of 03 September 1791, pointed out: “Sovereignty is one, indivisible, inalienable and imprescriptible.” In reality, Israel’s fictional and unacceptable claim— over the Jerusalem territory through the prehistoric linkage to its 3000 years old history—holds no merit since this argument nullifies the very concept of sovereignty established and practiced under the ambit of international law- defining and protecting the concept of the modern state system globally. Unjustifiably, both Israel and the US are nurturing the Israeli doctrine of security on the pretext of expanding its boundaries.
Trump’s Israeli love lost is proved by his two strategic blunders that make the future of regional peace in great danger: first, his backing out from Iran nuclear deal and second, his move of shifting US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The OIC emergency meeting in Istanbul accompanied by the public demonstration regarding Palestinians’ writ over Al- Quds sufficiently reflects the concern of Muslim community. The OIC is determined to counter Netanyahu’s plan of greater Israel. Notably, Trump’s unrealistic foreign policy approach has undermined US Mideast legacy which leads to serious ramifications—as emphasised by the Jordanian king Abdullah II in his latest interview given to the World Economic Forum.
For years, official US policy has been support for a two-state solution, with the final status of Jerusalem to be decided peacefully. In view of Josh Ruebner , analyst for US Campaign for Palestinian Rights , “Despite their lip service to a two-state solution of the issue, all are ideologically committed to Israel retaining control over 100 percent of historical Palestine, without recognising any national or human rights for the Palestinian people.
Apparently, the Trump administration has stressed that the relocation does not pre-empt decisions on the final status of the Israeli-Palestinian borders. But with this move seen as a boon to the Israelis, some people question what motive is left for the Palestinians to re-engage in talks, particularly with the United States as a mediator. lan Goldenberg, a Middle East expert with the Centre for New American Security said that Trump’s decision significantly undercuts the US’s credibility as a neutral party in the conflict. As the country that has led the Israeli-Palestinian peace process negotiations for the past 25 years, the US is “supposed to be acting like the fireman,” he said. “Instead, we’re acting like the arsonist — we’re making things worse.”
International legal experts/ theorists rightly warn that legal violations—particularly, high-profile violations by one of the most powerful countries—risk unravelling the entire enterprise of international law. The United States has violated international law before, but these violations have been accelerated under the Trump administration .To ensure the world community that the US is really a neutral peace broker in Arab-Israeli conflict, the next US President will have to act differently. Nevertheless, Trump-Netanyahu designed political engineering or their sophistry to redefine the sovereignty of Jerusalem via US embassy shifting is a deceitful ploy that cannot defy the geo-legal, geo-political, geo-historical, and geo-cultural truth that upholds East Jerusalem (Al- Quds) belongs only to Palestinians.
Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-analyst based in Karachi, is a member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies.