Trump and the ’emperor’s new clothes’

Dec 26,2017 – JORDAN TIMES –

Most of the dangerous consequences predicted from President Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital have been practically proven.  As feared, the US President’s imprudent and incendiary move plunged the already troubled region of the Middle East deeper into turmoil with casualties among Palestinian protesters rising by the day. Further afield, world capitals were unanimous in rejecting the US decision by rallying to cast a UN vote reaffirming the rule of law as previously demonstrated by dozens of UN and Security Council resolutions defining the status of Jerusalem, as well as the rights of the Palestinian people for statehood, on their own national historic soil with Jerusalem as their envisaged-state capital.

Notwithstanding, Trump’s decision has some significant positive side effects too.

President Trump was correct in saying that his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was merely an acknowledgment of an existing reality. In fact, Israel had already declared Jerusalem as its united eternal capital since its forces occupied the eastern part of the city (what remained of it when its western part had already been occupied in 1948) in 1967. For the past 50 years, neither Arab nor international condemnations of Israel’s decision have been successful in reversing the illegal Israeli action. Further endorsement took place in 1995 when US Congress passed legislation recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; 22 years before President Trump made the same declaration.

If, with the passing of time, such realities were buried under heaps of subsequent crises and developments, it is not a bad idea that Trump’s declaration is laying such realities bare once again to remind those who either forgot, or became accustomed to the abnormal state of affairs or
simply capitulated. 

In the last 50 years, Israel’s systematic schemes in Judaising the Arab city have been proceeding according to plan. The city was enlarged to cover no less than 12 per cent of the entire West Bank area; it was surrounded by new Jewish colonies to isolate it completely from its Arab environment; and the Muslim and Christian Arab population of the city have been regularly removed by various means including confiscation of their property and by withdrawing their residence permits.

Daily incursions by Jewish extremist elements into Al Haram Al Sharif/Al Aqsa Mosque have been ongoing for years in full defiance of Muslim rights, Hashemite custodianship of the Muslim and Christian Holy places in the city as well as of international law. 

Israel must have believed that the element of time, distraction and empty occasional verbal protests earned its measures adequate acceptance, until, all was exposed by President Trump’s bold step.

Rather than keeping the deception and creeping colonisation conspiracy broiling out of sight, in an instant, Trump lifted the convenient cover, displaying the ugly realities in a manner no one could any longer expediently ignore.  

As a result and in a matter of two weeks, everything was back in its place. The US Jerusalem decision was annulled by massive UN action. All the UN resolutions that had been passed in the last five decades were reaffirmed in the UN General Assembly (GA) resolution of December 21 rejecting Trump’s Jerusalem recognition. The resolution, that was passed by 128 approvals against 9 opposed, (with 35 abstentions and 21 no-shows) was a severe blow to the Washington move.

Not only that, but the same US move has broken years of silence on Israel’s occupation measures, not only in the Arab and the Muslim countries, but worldwide as well, with renewed declarations, in almost every capital reaffirming the Palestinian right to statehood with Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital.

Highlighting such facts could not have so powerfully and overwhelmingly happened without Trump’s Jerusalem decision.

Many commentators and analysts tended to undermine the value of the said GA resolution as not binding. That is utterly untrue. The General Assembly had convened in accordance with the 1950 Resolution 377, the “Uniting for Peace” resolution that requires immediate GA action in cases where the Security Council fails to agree on unanimous action for protecting world peace and security. In such a situation the GA would urgently meet to make up for the Security Council’s failure and its recommendations would have the same power as Security Council decisions.

Actually there are no clear cut rulings on what is binding or not binding with respect to UN resolutions, whether taken by the Security Council or the General assembly. That very much depends on the power play at the World Organisation. The sad reality is that influential powers’ convenience and interests normally determine which of the UN resolutions would be enforced or would be shelved.

Incidentally we ought to remember that the Trump decision on Jerusalem itself has no legal international value, in the sense that it has been issued by a single UN member state and therefore it only applies to that state. It does not bind any other state and it does not grant Israel’s claim to the occupied city of Jerusalem any legal validity.

One other positive side effect of the Trump Jerusalem move is that it also exposed decades of the fake peace processing. The charade was largely known; US policy was openly on Israel’s side. Not once, did Washington introduce one idea or one proposal regarding a possible settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli or the Arab-Israeli conflict without first clearing it with the Israeli government. The initiative has regularly been left in Israel’s hands. Moreover, Israel was infinitely assured of US support and protection at the UN; hence it managed to escape any consequences of its constant violation of international law with full unlimited impunity and no concern about accountability. That has been the norm well before President Trump took up office.

Nevertheless, Arab US allies’ hopes — Palestinian Authority included — that the US would exercise some measure of fairness in handling the issue, helping maintain their adherence: until Trump swiftly threw a spanner in the works putting an end to the masquerade. He deprived his best allies the chance of even collaborating with the seeming pretense that he was actually striving to succeed where his many predecessors had failed in resolving the century-old conflict with his acclaimed “ultimate deal”. Trumps’ move had, in the meantime, undercut many peace-process believers within the so-called, though hollow, international community.

By shouting “the emperor has no clothes” President Trump, not only embarrassed his Arab, European and other allies, he in fact made them go out of their way in condemning his actions and his unwise policies when many of them would not ever have wanted, let alone dared, to do so. He made it easy to openly and defiantly challenge his policies without any concern about threatened reprisals or “punitive” consequences.

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