How we lost Jerusalem


THE Trump Administration caused a controversy once more over Jerusalem (Al-Quds) when it decided to recognize it as the capital of Israel and move its embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This decision is an implementation of a law passed by the Congress, in 1995, which also authorized the president to postpone it every six moths. All US presidents since have done exactly that —till last Wednesday (Dec. 6, 2017).

The postponement was not only for US benefit but also to protect Israel from expected backlashes, and to encourage its government to normalize relations with its neighbors. The recognition was supposed to be a reward for Israel’s cooperation with US sponsored peace negotiations since its inception in Oslo, Norway, in 1993, which ended with Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) recognition of Israël in return to the Israeli recognition of the organization as the sole representative of the Palestinians. The historic agreement was signed in the White House between the PLO chairman, Yasser Arafat, and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, under the auspices of President Bill Clinton in 1993.

Since 1990, when George H. Bush, promised to find a solution to the Palestinian issue after the end of the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, successive presidents realized that the interest of the Zionist entity lies in implementing the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, the year in which East Jerusalem was occupied.

The US contributed to finding a way out of the Jerusalem complication by postponing the resolution until the final negotiations stage. This was the trap in which the Palestinian negotiators fell. First, They agreed that negotiations with Israel would come out of the joint American-Russian leadership, as was the case in the 1991 Madrid Conference, and accepted that the biased US side was the one and only sponsor. Then they accepted the one-step-at-a-time strategy. All they received in return were pieces of unconnected lands, in West Bank and Gaza, eaten up by increasing settlements and land grabs. They have no army of their own and all their air, land and seaports, as well as, taxation are under Israeli control.

The most important issues, such as the fate of Jerusalem, demarcation and sovereignty, have been left to the “final negotiations” stage, with no dates or deadlines set.

The Saudi initiative, adopted by the Arab League at the Beirut Summit in 2002, and the Islamic Summit in Makkah 2005, was based on an earlier Saudi proposal adopted by the Arab summit in Fez, Morocco, 1982. The latter was overtaken by the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the same year. In both cases, Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians accepted the Saudi initiatives and Israel ignored them.

The split between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, and the latter’s refusal to recognize Israel and the peace agreements, have weakened the Palestinian negotiator further. Israel used the opportunity to declare that they don’t have a peace partner. The entry of Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and Qatar into the Palestinian resistance camp has worsened its attitude, damaged the Palestinian cause, and spoiled their relations even with the Arab world.

Today, after the Palestinian-Palestinian relations have improved, it seems that the reconciliation agreement will lead to the formation of a unified delegation that would end Israeli “absent of partner” excuse. The Trump’S decision on Jerusalem, however, will inflame the situation, weaken the Palestinian peace camp and take us back to square one.

It is not like the American and Israeli sides are responsible for the failure of the peace initiatives alone. We must also admit that the divided Palestinian side, with its conflicting foreign loyalties and personal agendas, are also at fault. The selfish interests of some groups and personalities, and their dividing Marxist, Capitalist, Islamist and Liberal ideologies, have deprived the Palestinian side of the unity, vision and compass that was most needed to map the road and set clear goals and logical priorities. Such confusion also led them to blame the others, rather than reviewing their own shortcomings and taking responsibility for fixing them. Sometimes, they seem like they won’t miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

With united front, wiser politics and smarter, active diplomacy, they could certainly get more for less.

Jerusalem will remain an Islamic issue and Palestine will remain an Arab cause, and we, Arabs and Muslims, will support those who seek liberation, and confront those who gave our sacred lands away.

The least we could do is to boycott American and Israeli products and blacklist any businesses that deals with Israel. The Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation should raise the issue in all international forums. Palestine should be recognized as a state with Al-Quds as its capital. We must confront the American-Zionist scheme politically, diplomatically and economically. As long as the US chooses to blindly support Israel, both have to be isolated together... and alone!

— Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at Follow him at Twitter:@kbatarfi