Guatemala was the first country to follow in the footsteps of the US and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Viva Guatemala! While it was courageous of US President Donald Trump to deviate from the “international community” consensus and do what is right, for Guatemala it was beyond gutsy. And we here in the Jewish state are truly grateful. Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely’s announcement Monday on Reshet Bet public radio that Israel is talking with more than 10 countries about recognizing Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital gave cause for more optimism.Why is this happening now? The answer provided by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has been very simple. For more than two decades the US and the “international community” have invested enormous amounts of time and resources in trying to bring about a resolution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, with no success. The time has come, announced Haley, to try something new.
At least since the 1993 Oslo Accords, the US, the EU and other countries that have been involved in trying to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians have held recognition of Israel within clear borders, indeed of its very legitimacy, in limbo, awaiting an imminent resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.According to a long series of resolutions adopted by an increasingly partial UN, Israel was in violation of “international law.” Though all of Israel’s central institutions – the Supreme Court, the Knesset, major ministries – were based in Jerusalem; though the city of Jerusalem has thrived under Israeli rule both economically and as a place where the holy places of all three monotheistic faiths are respected and protected; and though citizens of all faiths have more freedom and economic opportunities than in any other Middle Eastern city, recognition of any part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was said to be in contradiction to “international law.”No one bothered to question why the UN’s institutions have been so adamant about denouncing Israel for “occupying” Jerusalem since 1967 but said precious little about Jordan’s “occupation” of the city between 1948 and 1967.Similarly, no one dared to question the consensus opinion held for decades by the “international community” and by elites in the US State Department that any US attempts to recognize Jerusalem would lead to an outbreak of violence by an enraged Muslim world.Even if it was right and just to affirm the Jewish people’s ties to Jerusalem, to acknowledge that Israel itself considered the city its capital, and to recognize the radical transformation for the better the city has undergone under Israeli rule, the US could not do so for fear that Palestinians and other Muslims and Arabs would react with waves of terrorism.Trump, who was brought to power by Americans who had enough of the old political elites who claimed to know what was best, questioned the international community consensus.Maybe America would garner more respect from the world if it stood up for what it believed in instead of trying to appease those who did not share its values? This trend is not unique to the US. In Europe, Brexit and other expressions of Euroskepticism are rebelling against the idea that the elites in Brussels know what is best. Allowing waves of immigrants from Syria, Libya, Sudan and Eritrea to flood Europe has not worked out so well.So far, EU officials are having more success pressuring the Czech Republic not to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, even though the country’s democratically elected President Milos Zeman openly supports the move.Additional European countries like Romania, Hungary and Poland would probably move in this direction if not for the EU’s demand to keep in lockstep with the consensus.But it is only a matter of time before additional countries join Guatemala in recognizing Jerusalem’s status. In the US, in Europe and elsewhere people guided by common sense are increasingly questioning elites. And this process bodes well for Israel.
Israel praises Guatemala over Jerusalem embassy move, December 25, 2017 (Video: Reuters)