Middle East/Palestine
Why Jerusalem? - Palestine

Why Jerusalem?

Posted by Aneela Shahzad on

In October, Britain announced a yearlong celebration of the Balfour Declaration at its centenary. In the first week of December, the US announced its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Considering the already ablaze situation in the Middle East and US’ waning foothold in the region, these are certainly unprecedented and enigmatic proceeds.

The question is, when the US has practically lost Syria and Iraq, and everything in the Middle East is showing a scene of chaos for the US and its allies, why restart yet another chapter that has a promise of irresolution? Why then Palestine, and why now?

The Palestine Issue has been a case of failure and frustration since 70 years, since after the UN resolution to partition Palestine. It is striking to note that before 1948, it was Britain that colluded with the World Zionist Organization for the creation of Israel, an illegal creation according to the dictates of the Human Rights Charter – and right after 1948, when US assumed a superpower status, it has been the US that has always backed/saved Israel every time there has been a move against it in the UN. So how does Israel manage to get superpower backing everytime?

In fact US’ failed Middle East Policy in the last 6years has dragged it down from a global hegemon status to a weak state status for being forced to compromise with the terms laid down by Russia and Iran in the region every time. The same happened at Trump’s move of declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital. Just one week later the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held an extraordinary summit in Turkey, declaring East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. In another week’s time, 128 UN members voted in favor of the international consensus - that the status of Jerusalem can only be settled as an agreed final issue in a peace deal - while only 9 members voted against it – taking the US further into international isolation in the issue. Yet the US is not ready to step back in its fury against the people of Palestine!

It has been reported that since May 2017, several secret meeting have been held between Donald Trump and Netanyahu in an attempt to finalize the ‘Deal of the Century’ for the Palestine Issue. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the deal sees Egypt as governing the Gaza Strip and Jordan as the political guardian over ‘parts’ of the occupied West Bank – whereas Israel would be controlling the remaining parts of the West Bank and grant Israeli citizenship to the Palestinians living under its sovereignty.

Haaretz also reported of meetings of Israeli officials and Egypt’s Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II and talks of secret meetings between the former US Secretary of State John Kerry, Netanyahu, Al-Sisi and King Abdullah held in Jordan in February 2016.

While it is improbable for both Al-Sisi and King Abdullah to go all-out against the Palestine Cause, their becoming the new occupiers of Gaza and the West Bank would also not be seem as similar to their control over these area in the 1948-67 period, when they were seen as saviors by the people of Palestine – who had intruded to save Palestine from complete Israeli seizure. But to make it a final solution, forcing the Palestinians to become captives forever, would mean to blindfold oneself of the reality of the struggle that the Palestinians have lived everyday for the past 70years. Furthermore it would invite the fury, not only of the Arabs, the Muslim Ummah but of the whole International Community.

In fact, instead of gaining any consent over the ‘deal of the century’, it seems that US and Israel have lost a trusted friend in Mahmod Abbas, who had been docile towards Israel since the demise of Yasser Arafat and has sought the middle ground with Israel wherever possible.  Abbas in his recent speech called the 'deal of the century' the ‘slap of the century’. Abbas has also said that it no longer sees US as playing any part in the Peace Process and that the Trump’s moves have practically "ended" the Oslo Peace Accords. Indeed if Abbas smells betrayal in the Arabs, he would be forced to turn towards reuniting with Hamas and finding refugee in the Iranians.

Rejecting the Oslo Accord would mean that PLO will no longer recognizing Israel's right to exist. Reportedly, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has written to Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei expressing concern on “the plots masterminded by the tyrant of the age (Trump)… for putting an end to Palestine’ and suggested that a new Intifada would ‘foil the plots’. A new Intifada in Palestine would mean many more sacrifices from the Palestinians and facing an ever fierce enemy.

Currently Israel’s military force ranks in the top 15 militaries of the world. With over 700,000 military personnel, Israel has 534 attack aircrafts and helicopters, 2620 combat tanks and a defense budget of $15.5Billion. On the other hand the Palestinians of the West Bank, who are land-locked virtually, have no weapons, whereas Israel has locked Gaza’s waters with strict surveillance. Whatever little supplies the Gazans try to bring in through tunnels from the Sinai, enable them to make home-made explosives and missiles, with which they keep showing deterrence but which cannot harm Israel a lot.

In this entire backdrop, while Trump’s moves seem like an international blooper, Israel is always ready to tighten its grip on the Palestinians and try its latest weaponry on the unarmed. Israel occupied East Jerusalem at the end of the 1967 War with Syria, Egypt and Jordan; the western half of the holy city had been captured in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Since 1967 the entire city is under de facto Israeli control. More than 400,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem only have ‘permanent residency’ cards, meaning they are neither Palestinian nor Israeli citizens. Jordan too treats them as step-children; Palestinian can come to Jordan only with ‘work permits’.

With already such oppression going on, Israel might be thinking that the Palestinians would have become so permissive to aggression that they would quietly swallow the bitter pill of Jerusalem, in their passivity and hopelessness. In this way of thinking, the time would be right for a full and final blow on the Palestinians in the form of Jerusalem! Loosing rights on Jerusalem would symbolically end Palestinian nationhood, as the Palestinians would be left without a capital, and this utter refutation of UN articles on Palestine would leave them in sheer gloom and anguish.

One must not be heedless of the fact that loosing Jerusalem would usher not just more Intifadas and more bloodshed, but also erupt more exodus of the Palestinians – and no land to give refuge to these people, except perhaps the deserts of the Sinai – as suggested to Obama by the Israelis in his presidency – with Abu Dis as their capital, as proposed by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman last month.

So that is why Jerusalem, because Jerusalem can become the ‘final solution’, the last nail in the coffin.