by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
The US decision to comply with the law of the land - the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act – recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocating the US Embassy there, enhances the US posture of deterrence, in defiance of threats and pressure, while walking against the grain.
This reasserts the independence of US unilateral diplomatic action, rather than subordinate US interests to multilateral diplomacy, which tends to undermine US interests. Moreover, it challenges the political correctness of the UN, the Department of State and the “elite” media, which have been serial blunderers on Middle East issues.
While President Trump recognizes Israel as a unique ally, strategically and morally – in an explosive region and during an unpredictably violent era – his determination to remedy this 70-year-old faulty policy aims at advancing US interests, rather than demonstrate pro-Israel sentiments.
The relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem reflects the realization that retreat in the face of threats and pressure intensifies anti-US policies, aggression and terrorism, while defiance of pressure is a prerequisite for the rehabilitation of deterrence, a precondition to peace and security.
US procrastination on the implementation of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act did not advance the cause of peace. Rather, intensified Palestinian expectations forced them to outflank the US from the radical side and therefore, added another obstacle on the road to peace.
The relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem should not undermine the peace process, since the Embassy will be located in an area which was controlled by Israel before the eruption of the 1967 Six Day War.
The relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem represents the American ethos – from the Early Pilgrims through the Founding Fathers - which has considered Greater Jerusalem the undivided capital of the Jewish Commonwealth. Hence, the 18 US towns names Jerusalem and the 32 named Salem (the original Biblical name of Jerusalem).
The relocation of the US Embassy will implement the 1995 legislation, which has enjoyed much support on, and off, Capitol Hill, but was sacrificed – until January 2017 - by the US Administration on the altar of false/faulty national security considerations. A waiver was introduced into the language of the law, as a result of pressure by then President Clinton, which was seconded by the late Prime Minister Rabin.
In July, 1999, a veto-override majority of 84 Senators supported proposed legislation, which would force implementation of the legislation by eliminating the presidential waiver. But, a coalition of President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak convinced the Senators to shelve it, contending that the cause of peace must not be sacrificed on the altar of Jerusalem.
However, reality has documented that they sacrificed reality and Jerusalem on the altar of wishful-thinking and a failed peace process, which collapsed during Prime Minister Barak’s tenure, accompanied by an unprecedented wave of Palestinian terrorism.
Another reminder that appeasement of rogue elements intensifies violence.
Apparently, President Trump is determined to avoid – rather than repeat – the mistakes of his predecessors, fending off pressure and threats by rogue regimes, and therefore advancing US interests, law and heritage.
In December, 1949, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s Founding Father, annexed Western Jerusalem, declared it the capital of the newly-born Jewish State, relocated the Knesset (legislature) and Cabinet headquarters to Jerusalem and built Jewish neighborhoods on the ceasefire line in Jerusalem. Ben Gurion acted in stark defiance of brutal pressure by the US State Department and most of the global community, which considered the whole of JerUSAlem Corpus Separatum, an international city.
Ben Gurion’s steadfastness, under horrific odds, undermined his short-term popularity, but greatly enhanced Israel’s long-term posture of deterrence, national security and respect, and earned him eternal acclaim.
Will Prime Minister Netanyahu follow in the footsteps of Prime Minister Ben Gurion in the pursuit of Israel’s long-term national security – walking against the grain and defying conventional “wisdom” - rather than fishing for short-term popularity through land concessions, which would expose Israel to lethal threats?!