In 1981, Israel defied international consensus by declaring all of Jerusalem as the “undivided, eternal capital of Israel” even though Israel had taken possession of East (Old) Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967, so that the UN, according to its principles, regarded it as “occupied territory” that should be returned to its previous owners, the Palestinians, by negotiation. Yet on December 6, U.S. President Donald Trump defied international consensus by announcing that for the first time the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that next year the U.S. will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. For decades, all nations with embassies in Israel have located them in Tel Aviv in protest of Israel’s intransigence to settle its conflict with the Palestinians, who desire their own state. They have believed, and I think rightly so, that the status of Jerusalem should be included as an element in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Nikki Haley is the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (UN). In recent days, and on behalf of the Trump administration, she has made threats to nations who oppose the recent U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem. Last week, the UN Security Council, which consists of 15 nations as members, with five of them being permanent members which includes the U.S., voted for a resolution to condemn the recent Trump announcement about Jerusalem. As was to be expected, the U.S. voted against the resolution while all 14 other members voted for it. Since there must be a unanimous vote for any UN Security Council resolution to pass, the resolution failed to pass.
Today, the UN General Assembly is taking up the measure, voting on its own resolution to condemn the Trump decision about Jerusalem. Just minutes before the vote is to be taken, Nikki Haley made a speech at the UN in which she again threatened nations that will vote for this General Assembly vote to condemn the U.S. She said when, in the future, nations ask the U.S. for economic or other assistance, the U.S. “will remember” this vote, meaning it will refuse to help nations that vote for this resolution.
That is stupid! Donald Trump has always prided himself as a great negotiator in the business world. He has only been the U.S. president for almost one year, and he has done many things indicating that he is not such a great negotiator. He pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and now China is filling that vacuum. He pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement to the disgrace of the U.S. around the world, since all other 190+ nations voted for the accord. All the while, Trump has made many threats against other nations and partnerships between nations.
During his presidential campaign, Trump trashed the UN itself. One of his criticisms has been that the U.S. pays way too much in dues while other nations are delinquent. That is somewhat of a legitimate argument. But his rhetoric has included statements suggesting the UN is useless, as if the U.S. should pull out of it. Again, that is stupid! This world would have had a lot more wars the past 70+ years if the UN had not existed.
This week, France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is in Washington to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tomorrow. When Le Drian landed at the airport, he spoke to the media alleging bluntly that President Trump is turning the U.S. into an isolationist nation and that the reputation of the U.S. is declining throughout the world because of it. These threats by Nikki Hailie about the U.S. decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem is just further evidence of what France’s foreign minister was saying.
Trump threatening other nations, and even carrying through with such threats, about the Jerusalem issue will only hurt the U.S. Moreover, I don’t think this decision about Jerusalem was in the best interests of the U.S. Then, why did Trump do it? It was a campaign promise. Donald Trump wooed the evangelical vote, and that had a lot to do with him getting elected president. A large percentage of evangelicals have always been Christian Zionists. These people unwittingly think they are doing God service and helping Israel and Jews in general by supporting the nation Israel about most anything it says or wants regardless of the ethics of the matter. But that is foolish and it inflames anti-Semitism around the world. Why?
The Jewish Bible says to the Jewish people, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19.18). Guess who said that? The next statement says, “I am the LORD.” It is Israel’s God who said that to Israel. But modern Israel has not loved its neighbor, the Palestinian people. Just the opposite.
Christian Zionists ignore this scripture for Israeli Jews and unwittingly fuel anti-Semitism throughout the world by their carte blanch support of Israel. No one in the U.S. government is a more adamant, and now influential, Christian Zionist than President Trump’s vice president, who is a very vocal evangelical–Mike Pence. These people do not understand–even though God states it repeatedly in the Bible–that God is no respecter of persons. He tells us to be that way also. All Christians should be fair to all people in their dealings with people, and that includes how one views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Now, having said all of this, I believe that giving the entire West Bank, or even just most of it, to the Palestinians in which to establish their own state, with the Gaza Strip joined to it, has always been a terrible proposal as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It has been a terrible idea for both Palestinians and Jews even though this is what Palestinians have wanted. But they have only wanted it due to geographics; that is, this is the way the land was settled. But that should not be the main determining factor in trying to solve this problem. People can be transferred! It has happened. And a lot more people have been transferred to solve conflicts than this number of people. Just think of Germans after WWII, or the India-Pakistan war.
For Israel, it leaves a far too narrow of a space between the Mediterranean Sea and the West Bank, about nine miles, which would be difficult for Israel to defend in case of war with Palestinians or even other Arab states. And for Palestinians to have a state in two separated parcels of land that would have to be joined together by a twenty-mile corridor would be much more difficult to defend and not economically feasible.
I tell about this and a lot more in my book, Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia (1990). Get it at Wipf and Stock Publishers. In this book I predict the outcome of this conflict based on my interpretations of certain Old Testament texts in the Bible. It’s happening! See the map image on the front cover of this book.