Jerusalem as capital of Israel, how sustainable?
In 1978 to the shock of the whole world President Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel in exchange for the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. Although Sadat was later assassinated in 1981, the status-quo still held. The mistake the Arab Nations made was not negotiating with Israel from a position of strength when the Soviet Union was still intact. In 1991 the dissolution of the Soviet Union added a new dimension to the history of that unstable region. In 1993 Yasser Arafat the PLO leader due to circumstances beyond his control was forced to negotiate with Prime Minister Rabin of Israel, which culminated in the famous handshake between the two bitter enemies on the lawn of the White House in 1993.
However, peace has eluded this unhappy region since then. President Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has caused uneasiness to the whole world. Critics have said that this decision is capable of inflaming an already volatile situation. On the other hand, some quarters believe that this action might force the two antagonists, the Arabs and the Jews to the negotiating table. The problem, however, is that the Muslim world is presently in turmoil.
The Saudis and Iranians loathe themselves and are involved in proxy wars against each other in Yemen, Syria and probably Lebanon. Who then is going to lead the Arab/Muslim delegation to peace talks with the Jews? On the Israeli side the status of Jerusalem has always been a sensitive issue. The Israelis have always maintained that they weren’t prepared to pull back to the pre-1967 borders because the Palestinians control of East Jerusalem would surely bring the rest of Israel within rocket range, which would cripple their economy. The Palestinians have always said that they should have the right to return to Palestine when they get their nation but since they are 12 million in number whereas the Israelis are 8.5 million in population with about 21 percent of that number being Arabs with Israeli passports. It would simply be possible for Israel to be swamped by a large hostile population that could be a threat to them.
To complicate matters Pope Francis and other respectable Christian leaders have attacked Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital because Christian Churches have assets in Israel and Palestine.
There are fears that this decision by President Trump might plunge the middle-east into a new wave of violence. Extremists groups might attack both Jews, Americans or even Europeans and thus returning the world to the bad old days of the 1970s and 1980s when no western country was immune from terrorists’ attacks. That is why Prime Minister Netanyahu was rebuffed by the European Union when he asked them to support Trump’s decision.
Throughout history the Jews have always been persecuted by Pagans, Atheists, Christians and Muslims. Threats by the Arab world won’t cause them to quake in their boots but would Americans be ready to be killed wherever they are because of the policy of their president?
Conventional wisdom states that Trump’s policy wouldn’t be sustainable in the long run. However, the Israelis and Americans are brutal pragmatists. They have calculated that the Muslim world have no rallying point because of the Sunni/Shiite conflict (which started after the death of the Prophet Mohammed), which has ensured that Muslims can never talk with one voice.
If this action of Trump can drag the two greatest enemies in history the Jews and Arabs screaming to the negotiating table, the whole hullabaloo about Trump’s decision would have been worth it.
Abah wrote from Abuja.
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