The president’s foolish move in recognizing the city as the capital of Israel will have negative consequences impossible to predict.
It is now hard to see how a sustainable Palestinian-Israeli agreement is possible. True to Trump form, this is an entirely self-inflicted wound that will long echo in the annals of diplomacy. It will further diminish the already reduced standing of the US, complicating relations with allies, with Muslims and Arabs — and with people of common sense the world over.
Every time it seems Donald Trump cannot outdo himself, he does it again. Now he has announced that his administration will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reversing nearly seven decades of American policy. This step will have multiple negative ramifications, many impossible to predict.
Jerusalem is the most important of the so-called final status issues that have been repeatedly deferred during the Israel-Palestine negotiations because of their extreme sensitivity. Trump has plowed into this imbroglio like a bull in a china shop, zeroing in on the most complex and emotional issue of all those connected to Palestine.
Jerusalem is undoubtedly the most important aspect of the entire Palestine question. It has been central to the identity of Palestinian Muslims and Christians as far back as the founding moments of both religions, and has become even more so as the conflict over Palestine has become fiercer.
The rivalry over this holy city is exacerbated by the fact that the same site — the Haram al-Sharif to Muslims, the Temple Mount to Jews — is sacred to both. Because of its explosive nature, this is an issue that no Palestinian politician, and few Arab leaders, would dare to trifle with.
For someone such as me, whose family has lived in Jerusalem for hundreds of years, Trump’s announcement does not just mean that the US has adopted the Israeli position that Jerusalem belongs exclusively to Israel. He has also retroactively legitimized Israel’s seizure and military occupation of Arab East Jerusalem during the 1967 war, and its imposition of discriminatory laws on hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living there. The damage he has done will be permanent: the US cannot undo this recognition.