The Trump administration vetoed a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution last week that called on the U.S. to rescind its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and ultimately move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the seat of Israel’s parliament (Knesset), the Supreme Court, and where the Prime Minister and President of the Jewish State reside. The UNSC resolution drafted by Egypt and backed by 13 other members of the Security Council affirms that “any decision and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.”
The obvious cave-in to Arab and Muslim demands by presumed allies of the U.S. such as Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Ukraine, and Uruguay, who sought to force the U.S. to back down on its decision to comply with the U.S. Congress recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, amounted to nothing less than chutzpa. U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, shot back that the U.S. would take names of the countries that sought to negate U.S. sovereign decisions. She also praised President Trump’s decision on Jerusalem as “The just and right thing to do.”
President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has caused an uproar in the Arab and Muslim world, which was more or less expected. Anti-Semites such as Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s dictatorial president, has summoned together the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul for a special emergency meeting. The Arab League meeting in Cairo on December 9, 2017, “demanded” that President Trump “reverse” his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Palestinians, on their part, asked for a UN emergency meeting on Jerusalem, and got it, a privilege reserved only for Palestinians and denied to the 40 million Kurdish people. Both Erdogan and Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, emphasized after the summit that there is no future role for the U.S. in the peace process because it lost neutrality by “siding with Israel.” Both leaders threatened violence. For Mahmoud Abbas, this is another opportunity to incite the Palestinian street to violence just as he did last year when he alleged that the Israeli government altered the status-quo on Temple Mount.
While the Palestinian-Arab reaction was anticipated, the reaction of the European Union (EU) was not. Israel, being Europe’s first line of defense, as articulated last week by Prime Minister Netanyahu in a meeting with the EU foreign ministers, was not enough for the EU to support Trump’s move on Jerusalem. Nor was the fact that the U.S. has been Europe’s protector since WWII sufficient enough for the Europeans to lock steps with the U.S. on Jerusalem. Opposition to Israel and support for the Palestinians is one of the few issues that unites the Arab-Muslim world. The EU position is however, hard to grasp given the shared biblical background of Jews and Christians, as well as Israel’s shared values with the West and its thriving democracy. The same Western members of the UNSC (France Japan, Sweden) that sought to force President Trump to rescind his decision on Jerusalem, abstained last year on a UNESCO vote that declared that the Western Wall (the holiest site in Judaism) is a Muslim heritage site, defying history, and making a mockery of truth and justice.
According to the Egyptian Al-Ahram Weekly, “German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that Germany will stick to UN resolutions on Jerusalem.” British Prime Minister Theresa May, who also disagreed with Trump on his decision, did not mention international law in her statement. However, she also went further than Macron, Merkel and Trump in the substance of what she said by saying Jerusalem should be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states. Federica Mogherini, the EU’s “Foreign Minister,” expressed concern about, “the repercussions this may have on the prospect of peace.” She issued a statement that reiterated the EU’s position that, “Jerusalem should be a future capital of two states, Israel and Palestine, and that embassies should not be moved until the city’s final status was resolved.” According to the New York Times, Mogherini cited the 1980 UNSC resolution that condemned Israel’s attempted annexation of East Jerusalem as a violation of international law.
Lest we forget, the same UN body Mogherini cited, declared in 1975 that Zionism: the Jewish national liberation movement, equaled racism. The international community and the UN, including the western powers, denied the Jewish state recognition of its chosen capital for 19 years prior to the reunification of Jerusalem in 1980, making Israel the only member whose capital is not recognized. Then again, the UN has been a bastion of anti-Semitism since Israel became a member in 1949.
Jewish claim to Jerusalem is rooted in 3,000 years of history. King David made it his capital in 1,004 BCE. Of the many conquerors of Jerusalem, none made it their capital. Not the Romans who ruled the land from 70 to 324 C.E., Byzantine 324-614, Persian 614-640, Arabs 640-1099, Mamluks 1291-1516, and the Ottoman Turks who ruled the land from 1516-1918. Jewish presence in the city remained constant despite persecution and massacres. In fact, since the 1840, Jews were a majority in Jerusalem.
Professor Alan Dershowitz, an internationally renowned legal scholar, in an Op Ed piece, pointed out that, “President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a perfect response to President Obama’s benighted decision to change American policy by engineering the UNSC resolution declaring Judaism’s holiest places in Jerusalem to be occupied territory and a ‘flagrant violation under international law.’ It was President Obama who changed the status quo and made peace more difficult by handing the Palestinians enormous leverage in future negotiations and disincentivizing them from making a compromised peace.”
Dershowitz went on to say, “It has long been American foreign policy to veto any one-sided Security Council resolutions that declared Judaism’s holiest places to be illegally occupied. Obama’s decision to change that policy was not based on American interests or in the interests of peace. It was done out of personal revenge against Prime Minister Netanyahu and an act of pique by the outgoing president. It was also designed improperly to tie the hands of president-elect Trump. President Trump is doing the right thing by telling the UN that the U.S. now rejects the one-sided Security Council resolution.”
In so far as the UN and “international law” is concerned, if its General Assembly drafted a resolution that the earth is flat, it would receive a majority in that body. With 57 Arab and Muslim voting bloc, it dominates much of the voting in the UN, and that is why Israel is, and has been, a constant target of its abuse. The sycophantic EU states have ignored or downplayed Palestinian incitement and violence. To appease the Arab-Muslim world, the French government has released Palestinian terrorist killers, as did the German and Italian governments.
Mogherini’s comment about Jerusalem serving as the capital of two states, i.e. Palestine and Israel, is iniquitous. For 19 years Israelis experienced what Arab control of Eastern Jerusalem meant. Jews were barred from setting foot in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter, going to the Western Wall, and other Jewish holy sites in the city including the Mount of Olives Cemetery.
President Trump’s courageous move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital showcased the contrast between Trump’s principled approach and the cowardice of most of the EU members.