Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Time to Call the Arab Bluff

Yesterday I shared reports suggesting that major Arab nations would accept an American decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel. As it happens the Jerusalem Embassy Act, from November, 1995 said the same thing, but why miss the opportunity for some serious diplomatic theatre.

Leading the charge for the Palestinian authority yesterday was Turkish president Reccep Erdogan. Also chiming in were government officials from other Arab countries. Erdogan, in particular, said that America’s recognizing of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital—which is American policy—would be a red line, possible causing it to break off diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. The Palestinian Authority said it would no longer negotiate with Israel or take America as an honest broker. 

Precisely why this is a bad thing I do not understand.

And this is just the start:

Without further ado here is the Wall Street Journal report:

Arab leaders across the Middle East are making last-ditch appeals to the U.S. not to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel, a move that could trigger widespread violence and immediately torpedo efforts led by White House special adviser Jared Kushner to launch a regional peace plan.

The foreign ministers of Jordan and Egypt have called Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to warn about the dangers of such an announcement. Palestinian leaders met with U.S. officials on Monday in Washington to warn them that any declaration on Jerusalem that tilts toward the Israelis would undermine President Donald Trump’s attempt to relaunch peace talks.

Palestinian leaders say they will stop working with the U.S. if Mr. Trump makes any declaration about Jerusalem this week.

And then the president of France, quivering over the large number of unruly Muslims in his own country, a nation, incidentally where anti-Semitism is on the rise, called President Trump:

In a phone call Monday with Mr. Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron voiced concern about Mr. Trump’s proposed move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Mr. Macron said the question of Jerusalem “should be resolved in the framework of peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” his office said.

Even Saudi Arabia, notably more friendly to the Trump administration and to Israel sounded an alarm last night, through the Ambassador to the United States:

As concern about the U.S. plan spread, Saudi Arabia publicly declared its opposition late Monday night.

“Any U.S. announcement on the status of Jerusalem prior to a final settlement would have a detrimental impact on the peace process and would heighten tensions in the region,” said Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

Saudi Arabia has been a key supporter of the Palestinians, but its leaders are closely aligning themselves with the Trump administration’s efforts to curb Iran’s influence in the Middle East.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a global group currently led by Saudi Arabia, warned that the U.S. would “lose the legal and moral high ground and its mediating role” if it made the expected announcement about Jerusalem.

In the meantime, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has taken steps to tamp down Iranian influence in Syria. Surely this message was well-received in Riyadh. The Wall Street Journal reported:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently sent a message to Syria’s leader threatening to strike the country if it allows Iran to set up military bases there, a sign Israel is prepared to drop its neutral stance on the yearslong war next door, according to Israeli officials.

It isn’t clear when the message was sent, but it came before what pro-regime media in Syria described as an Israeli missile strike Saturday on a military base controlled by Iran near the Syrian capital, Damascus.

What are we to make of all this?

We do not know whether the Arab protests are real or a bluff. In either case, Trump has more to lose by looking like he has caved to pressure from the president of Turkey than he does by damaging a purely fictitious peace process. Nothing of real value to America has come from this absurd process. Every time we or the Europeans or the Israelis offer concessions to the Palestinians we are rewarding terrorism and threats of terrorism. And every time Israel makes a concessions the Palestinians say that it's not enough. The Palestinians do not have any cards. It’s long past time when we should have called the bluff.

I suspect that most Arab nations are tired of the Palestinian madness. We can continue the fiction, but there comes a time when we should say enough is enough. The Palestinians should accept the plan offered by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and put an end to the madness.

I note that the only senior Muslim figures protesting here are the president of Turkey and the king of Jordan. (We note that Jordan is a majority Palestinian state.) Other countries sent out ministers and ambassadors… people with less clout and prestige.

If these statements are merely face saving for certain Arab governments, then we ought to ignore them. In other words, we should call the bluff. We should also recognize, as we said yesterday, that the deep state, the entrenched bureaucracy likes the diplomatic dance and still believes in peace treaties. It will resist the Trump administration move to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

If Trump appears to give in to pressure, he will lose face and will lose the respect necessary to conduct any negotiations.


trigger warning said...

"Pale[o]stinian leaders say they will stop working with the U.S. if Mr. Trump makes any declaration about Jerusalem this week."

Promises, promises.

Jack Fisher said...

How does moving the Embassy to Jerusalem advance US interests?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

It shows that we are not going to be cowed by terrorists and will not allow them to dictate our foreign policy. It also shows support for a nation that is not the problem in the Middle East, but the solution. Blaming Israel for the failure of the Palestinians and other neighboring states to produce prosperous modern economies is appalling.

Sam L. said...

Why does Trump have to declare Jerusalem to be the Israeli capital? That's for the Israelis to do. Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem seems to be the right (sorry about that, Chief) thing to do.

Anonymous said...

When will we we get AO’s antisemitic take on this issue?

Jack Fisher said...

"Whose is bigger"-style foreign policy is nonsense. The palestinians, turks, etc. didn't tell us to put our embassy in Tel Aviv in the first place. Move the embassy if and only if it confers net, articulable foreign policy benefits to the US over the expected diplomatic fallout. Does it contribute to Israeli security (which benefits the US)? Does keeping the embassy where it is hurt American interests? Thumbing noses at the islams is not a valid reason.

Sam L. said...

See this, too: https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/282586/#respond

trigger warning said...

"That's for the Israelis to do."

They did. Decades ago.

trigger warning said...

"The palestinians, turks, etc. didn't tell us to put our embassy in Tel Aviv in the first place."

In 1948, when we recognized the new Israeli state, Tel Aviv was the center of government.

Jack Fisher said...

Where the US embassy is located is not a matter for emotional response or schoolyard puffing. The first and only issue should be whether relocating to J benefits the US more than staying in TA.