Trump’s threats and painful defeat over Jerusalem


“Jerusalem is not for sale.” This is what the Palestinians said unequivocally through their President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior Palestinian officials. This was in response to United States President Donald Trump’s threat to cut off the aid provided by the US to the Palestinian Authority if it does not return to the negotiating table with the Israeli government.

Trump issued this threat after declaring his recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel and his decision to transfer the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This was in defiance of international laws, as well as resolutions of the UN Security Council and the General Assembly. These include resolutions for which the US voted in the past that declare the territories occupied by Israel after the 1967 war as occupied territories and further state that it is not permissible to change their features or demographic structure.

The Palestinians are fully convinced that the United States is biased in favor of Israel, and, therefore, is not in a position to play any role in the peace process as it cannot be an honest broker, especially when an extreme right-wing government is in power in Israel. The United States now has a president who has lost his credibility to deal with either international politics or international laws. Trump has entrusted the mission of bringing together the two parties to his son-in-law, who lacks the knowledge, experience and logic required to bring the two sides to negotiating table.

President Trump would have succeeded in tackling this core issue, in which his predecessors have failed, if he had taken up the file of the Palestinian cause himself and handled it in a judicious and just manner. There have been great efforts, sacrifices and concessions made by the Palestinians to resolve the problem, but all of these have been futile due to Israeli intransigence.

The Palestinians and Israel signed the Oslo Accords under the mediation of the United States. The Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shook hands in the White House and Arafat called this historic handshake the peace of the brave. However, Rabin was later assassinated by a Jewish extremist simply because he had signed the peace agreement with the Palestinians.

If Trump accomplishes the mission that Rabin initiated by convincing the Israelis that peace is in their long-term interest, he will find a place in the annals of history.

Trump has made promises to solve the Palestinian issue by calling it the “deal of the century”. It would be that in all senses of the word if he was fair and just in demanding that Israel implement the agreements reached between the two parties as well as in accordance with the international laws and resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council and General Assembly and endorsed by the United States. All these resolutions have called for the adoption of the two-state solution as a final solution to the problem so that a Palestinian state would exist next to the state of Israel along 1967 borders. There has also been an Arab Initiative that was consistent with the international resolutions mentioned above and approved by all the Arab countries, including the Palestinian Authority.

On one hand, Trump speaks about his resolve to solve the Palestinian issue and affirms his ability to score a victory in a mission in which former American presidents failed. But at the same time, he declares his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as if Jerusalem were his own property, forgetting or pretending to forget the undeniable fact that Jerusalem is a red line not only for the Palestinians, but also for all Arabs and Muslims. It seems that he is not aware of the importance attached to Jerusalem by Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims and even the Christian population of Palestine. It is totally unacceptable for them to have Jerusalem as the capital of Israel based on myths and lies fabricated by Israel.

There is not a single Palestinian or Arab national or Muslim who accepts Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as declared by Trump. Indeed, the entire world has rejected it outright. The best proof of this is the terrible defeat suffered by Trump and his representative to the UN in the Security Council and the General Assembly.

Before the vote in the General Assembly, Trump threatened to cut off foreign aid to those countries that voted against the United States. However, the vast majority of nations saw the threat as pertaining to their sovereignty, which is not at all negotiable. Now, he has started issuing another threat to cut off aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) if it does not accept his ill-fated decision, whereby he gives something that is not owned by him to someone else who is not at all entitled to have it.

— Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi is a former Saudi diplomat who specializes in Southeast Asian affairs. He can be reached at