Refusing to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel until Arabs agree,
makes the issue a hostage to Arab demands.
Such capitulation is unfair
and encourages Arab intransigence.
Although previous US administrations
have not been willing to change this biased policy, despite Congressional
legislation recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the US President and
State Department have opposed such a decision, hoping to offer an incentive for
a negotiated settlement. Instead, it has functioned as an obstacle to
Relying on a basic flaw in the Oslo Accords – leaving the issues
of Jerusalem, refugees, “settlements” and borders for final negotiations – this
wait-and-hope policy serves those who seek to force Israel to capitulate sooner
As long as resolving these important issues depends on Arab
approval, it sends a clear message not only that they can hold out for their
maximum position, but that they should.
This contributes to an Arab
mindset that as long as the international community backs them on these core
issues, they will succeed.
IN OTHER words, by taking the position that
these issues are still negotiable on terms that would mean Israel’s demise, the
US administration is actually supporting that goal. It is not a neutral
position, but one that supports Arab interests.
Logically, if one
believes that Jerusalem should be divided, that Arabs who are considered
refugees should return to Israel, that Israeli borders will revert to the 1949
lines, and recognition of Israel’s right to exist is not even on the table, then
why should Arabs compromise? The US administration has given tacit approval to
Arab claims, weighing them equally with those of Israel.
By refusing to
recognize Jerusalem as a united city and Israel’s capital, while condemning
Jewish building in “eastern” (northern and southern) Jerusalem, Obama has
effectively strengthened the Arab position. This is not “even-handed” –
especially since Obama has not objected to an estimated 60,000 illegal Arab
buildings in Eastern Jerusalem.
The US administration could recognize
Jerusalem as Israel’s capital without prejudice to any future determination in
the event that a Palestinian state is established. But refusing to recognize
Israel’s claims – holding Israel hostage to Arab agreement – shifts the balance
Similarly, holding out the prospect that 5 million Arabs
will move into Israel and/or Judea and Samaria, and giving money to UNRWA
perpetuates this goal.
Suggesting that the 1949 Armistice Lines are the
basis for negotiations clearly violates UN Security Council Resolution 242 which
asserts “the right to secure and recognized boundaries” – not the Armistice
Encouraging unrealistic expectations impedes acceptance of
Israel’s legitimate claims and her right to exist.
If unresolved issues
render the two-state plan unviable, then so be it. The more one believes in
delusions, the farther one is from reality and sanity.
With Islamists and
the Muslim Brotherhood in power and Iran about to achieve The Bomb, holding out
for impossible goals is a destructive irrational policy. The initial withdrawal
of any mention of Jerusalem from the Democratic platform is an omen of Obama’s
agenda for Israel.
Support for Israel is bipartisan; it should not be a
wedge issue. But Obama has changed the rules of the game. Waiting for Arabs to
compromise, to end terrorism and incitement, and to accept reality puts Israel’s
survival on the table.
The author is a PhD scholar, historian, writer and
journalist living in Israel.