Alwaght- After Trump’s election as US president, the country’s foreign policy became a scene of controversial decisions, to the degree that even the Washington’s closest allies began to complain. Meanwhile, one of the highly disputable recent stances of the American administration is about the al-Quds (Jerusalem) Embassy Act. Passed in November 1995, the act has yet remained suspended by various US administrations due to massive protests by Palestinians as well as Muslims across the world, and a fear of unpredictable consequences.
Donald Trump was another president to deal with the case cautiously halfway. Despite his campaign-time pledges of recognition of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the permanent capital of the Israeli regime immediately after taking the office, he in early June extended suspension of implementation of the Congress law for additional six months. First day of December marked end of the six-month suspension extension. The Wall Street Journal on the same day published a report, maintaining that the US government is considering a diplomatic step to officially recognize al-Quds as the official capital of the Israeli regime and so pave the way for relocation of its embassy to the new capital. The American newspaper added that the US has notified its embassies across the world of its plan.
Speaking at the Permanent Mission of Israeli regime to the United Nations at the 70th anniversary of the UN vote calling for “the establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel,” the US Vice-president Mike Pence said on Tuesday that Trump is “actively considering” moving the American embassy to al-Quds.
Two questions look crucial here: What’s behind Trump’s decision to relocate the embassy? And what are the possible consequences?
Supporting allies in face of opponents
During his presidential campaign, Trump attacked the policy of the former American president Barack Obama, bashing him for failing to provide firm backing to Washington allies in various parts of the world, which led to impairment of them in the face of the rival, anti-American parties around the world. So, upon assumption of power, Trump embarked a confrontational policy in dealing with the adversaries on the one hand and took step toward full-scale patronage of the US allies and their actions on the other hand. An apparent example is the American green light to the highly destabilizing measures of Saudi Arabia in the region at least over past year, including imposing an all-out blockade on Qatar, crackdown on internal opposition, and the regime’s brutal aggression against neighboring Yemen, which so far took lives of thousands of civilians, not to mention the meddling in Lebanon’s politics.
Since presidency of Donald Trump, Tel Aviv has considerably shored up its expansionist plans across al-Quds. And the relocation of embassy from Tel Aviv is another sight of the outcomes of the regional policy of Trump, the president who is widely known for his anti-Islamic stances.
Escaping domestic pressures
The American president is now at home heavily pressured by his opponents as well as the critics who blast his weird and erratic policies and measures. Trump is at odds with the Republican old guard. He every now and then comes to blows with the established internal media and minorities. He has also recently been involved in a fight with the country’s judicial system which has left no stone unturned in quest for tracks of secret relations of Trump’s relatives with Russia amid charges that he received help from Moscow to beat his presidential rival Hillary Clinton.
All these developments tighten the noose on the American president at home. Amid such conditions, ignition of new crises might temporarily come to help. He escalates the tensions with North Korea and talks about the intention to recognize al-Quds as the capital of the Israeli regime and so move embassy to that city in a bid to find loopholes to escape the internecine challenges.
Winning powerful Zionist lobby support
Certainly, the Zionist lobby is the most powerful and wealthiest lobby with influence on the decision-making orbits, the political parties, and the major media corporations in the US. So, winning the support of this powerhouse is the key prerequisite to the politicians to be successful in their political career.
Since 1990s, the pro-Israeli lobbyists as well as the Israeli leaders have often demanded that the American embassy be moved to al-Quds, something requiring the US government recognition of the city as the Israeli capital. But the consecutive presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama declined to take steps towards this, being aware of the political costs that such measure could bring forth. Now by reviving the suspended law of embassy location, Trump wants to make sure that he can garner patronage of the strong lobby.
But this risky project definitely does not go without severe ramifications. Here are some of them:
Damaging Palestinian-Israeli compromise efforts and eruption of new intifada
In past decades, taking a gesture of a neutral party, various American administrations sought realizing their common goals and policies with Tel Aviv through supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. But the fact is that the US and the West as a whole have never been impartial mediators to the seven-decade dispute. Several rounds of negotiations between the two sides, with participation of some of submissive Arab regimes, never yielded a condemnation of the Israeli crimes against the Palestinians and occupation of the Palestinian territories. Indeed, Washington resorts to negotiations because it is well aware that force and military solutions are far from efficient to guarantee continuation of life of the Israeli regime in the region.
Now the American support for the Israeli aggression is exposed. Relocation of embassy and recognition of the Israeli occupation bring discredit upon claims of the pro-compromise Arab sides who seek to persuade the Palestinians to go to the negotiating table. It also more and more highlights the need for the Palestinians to resist the Israeli occupation. In these conditions, a new intifada is highly likely. Palestine’s Hamas in a statement cautioned against the relocation of the American embassy, saying the move is aggressive and legalizes the Israeli occupation.
International opposition to US move
Trump’s US has been ordinarily withdrawing the international accords while the previous administrations had official commitment to their implementation. This for nearly a year has been bringing forth outrage and objection of the foreign governments and international organizations. Withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as threatening to exit from the Iran nuclear deal, reached with six powers in 2015, are only part of the Trump administration’s mistreatment of accords.
At the time being, implementation of the (al-Quds) Jerusalem Embassy Act marks another American government’s violation of the international law, having in mind that even the United Nations currently labels Israeli presence in eastern part of al-Quds as an act of occupation. The UN on Friday in a statement declared that the Israeli measure to impose its judicial and administrative rules in al-Quds was a sign of occupation, adding that this was illegal.
The UN resolutions, especially the resolution 242, admit that the Israeli seizure of the eastern al-Quds in 1967 is an act of annexation. Therefore, moving the embassy apparently runs counter to the international laws and agreements. The international atmosphere might no longer approve of this violation, according to analysts. The UN Security Council on August 20, 1980 approved resolution 478 condemning the Israeli move to announce al-Quds as the capital of what they call Jewish state. The resolution read: “Reaffirming again that the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible, Israel has not complied with resolution 476 (1980).”
Earlier, King Abdullah of Jordan and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt in their meetings with Trump warned that embassy relocation could have grave consequences. The Arab League during its 28th summit in March this year came against the American embassy moving intention.
More regional destabilization
Intensification of the regional instability is certainly another corollary of the American embassy case. Right now, fierce competition and degrees of hostility between regional and international actors in such significant cases as Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon are under way, making the regional conditions more complicated and sensitive. In such climate, having in mind that the Palestinian cause is a deep-rooted crisis with over half a century length, the American step could the situation more complicate. It sure will expand the area of conflict and fuel the struggles in the region, with the first spark being the intifada of the Palestinians and possibly entry to a full-scale war in the occupied territories. The imagination of such a picture of the region and the ensuing risks held back the previous American presidents from moving their embassy from Tel Aviv to al-Quds despite their desire for relocation. Now the world should wait and see if scrappy Trump will take the challenge.