Last month, when President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he made it crystal clear why: “This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”
Trump was right. He was finally doing what Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama had promised to do. And he was finally carrying out the will of the American people.
Twenty-two years ago, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, with virtually unanimous bipartisan support. The law sets forth U.S. policy that Jerusalem should be recognized as Israel’s capital, and that the U.S. embassy should be established there. A unanimous Senate affirmed the policy last June.
Of course, Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. It’s where the Knesset – Israel’s Parliament – is located, as is its Supreme Court and many government ministries. When our government leaders meet with their Israeli counterparts, they meet in Jerusalem.
The notion that Trump’s decision impedes the peace process – to the extent one exists – is baseless. For over 20 years, the Palestinian Arabs have not fulfilled their obligations under existing peace agreements, failing to fight and stop inciting terrorism, collect illegal weapons, and outlaw terrorist groups. Instead, the Palestinian Authority (PA) glorifies and incentivizes terrorism, naming schools, streets and sports teams after Jew-killing terrorists, and paying pensions to terrorists and their families. The greater the atrocity, the larger the pension. In 2017 alone, the PA paid terrorists and their families over 347 million dollars.
Contrast those actions with Israel’s concessions for peace. In 2005, Israel withdrew from Gaza, displacing approximately 9,000 Israelis from their homes and communities. The decision was costly: Rather than the hoped-for peace, Israel got terrorism instead. Hamas, the U.S.-designated terrorist group which assumed control in Gaza, shot thousands of deadly rockets into Israeli communities, and built underground tunnels from Gaza into Israel so that terrorists could infiltrate and murder Israeli Jews. In 2010, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu froze all construction in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) for 10 months. But the PA has refused to negotiate.
Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president, is often described as a moderate and credible peace partner. But his actions show he’s the opposite. Take, for example, the official emblem of his political party, Fatah, which controls the PA. The emblem does not suggest anything resembling compromise or cooperation. Instead, it depicts all of Israel as “Palestine.”
Last month, Abbas addressed the Organization of Islamic Cooperation at a summit in Turkey. Not surprisingly, he condemned Trump’s decision recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. But rather than make reasoned arguments based on facts, he lied.
Abbas described Jerusalem as “a Palestinian Arab Muslim Christian city” with “an “Arab, Islamic and Christian identity.” Shamefully, he wouldn’t acknowledge the historical fact that the Jewish people have a centuries-old presence in and connection to Jerusalem, long before Christianity or Islam even existed.
So is Trump’s decision recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital an obstacle to peace? Absolutely not. Not moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem for the past 22 years in accordance with the Jerusalem Embassy Act has not helped at all. We are further from peace than ever.
That’s largely because Arab and Muslim leaders perpetuate destructive lies – that Israel is “confiscating” and “occupying” Jerusalem and other parts of Israel, as if Jews are interlopers and not indigenous to the land. Peace can come when these leaders finally accept the reality of the Jewish people’s claim to their holy city and their right to a nation state in their religious and ancestral homeland.
President Trump astutely recognized that it was time to face reality about Jerusalem and move forward from there. Time will tell whether the Arab leadership will ever be ready to do it.
Susan B. Tuchman, is the director of the Center for Law and Justice. Alan D. Jay is the executive director of the Northern New Jersey Chapter Zionist Organization of America.
This article was published by North Jersey news and may be found here.