La Gaceta, December 14

Jerusalem: Trump's Smart Move vs. Brussels' Error

In regards to the peace process, the Europeans are wrong once again. President Trump's decision makes it more viable, it does not push the process farther away.

2017-12-14 by Rafael Bardaji

President Trump's decision to recognize officially Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to start the transfer of the American embassy from Tel Aviv has caused a stir, especially among current EU leaders. It is no wonder; after all, Brussels is a universe where fear of change rules above all and its only defense is the threat of chaos. In the case of Israel, the Palestinians, and the Middle East, things are even worse, since the European Union lives in a parallel universe, oblivious to the history and realities of that region. 

Donald Trump's decision could not please Europeans for several reasons. The first rationale for this displeasure is because it comes from Trump, a leader Europeans continue to detest and hope that he be deposed as soon as possible — so blinded they are to what today’s America is all about. The European leaders would have undoubtedly preferred to see the American president reneging on his campaign promise; after all, they make all kinds of campaign promises perfectly aware that they will not be minimally involved in them and have no desire to keep those promises a posteriori. Trump’s delivery on his campaign promise is an authentic revolution, which destabilizes our old continent’s perverse, theatrical, and deceptive way of doing politics.

The Europeans know in any case that Trump's decision is more nuanced than what the leftist and conservative alarmist media have wanted to depict. The pragmatic American president has only made official what it has been a reality since 1949: The sovereign State of Israel, in full exercise of its national sovereignty, decided that Jerusalem would be its capital and established in it the administrative and political structures of the country, its seat of government, the Parliament, and the Supreme Court. What President Trump has done is to acknowledge reality. Moreover, he has taken it upon himself to say that he does not prejudge the administrative and neighborhood borders of the city of Jerusalem — an issue that allows the interested parties, Israelis and Palestinians, engage in direct negotiations. In other words, Donald Trump does not define a final statute for the city, which is still pending for a peace agreement.

It is for this reason that the European leaders have emphasized the short-term damage of Trump’s decision, invoking the ever-feared Arab Street, turmoil, riots, and Palestinian violence. Not only are they morally wrong, becoming voluntary hostages of those who always resort to violence in order to advance their political causes, they are also politically wrong: There have been hardly any protests in the West Bank; the Arab League has only issued a tepid, traditional condemnation, without appeals to do anything; and countries such as Egypt or Saudi Arabia have looked the other way since they are more interested than ever in cooperation with Israel. Worse yet, in their reflex impulse to distance themselves from whatever Trump says or does, the EU leaders have aligned themselves with terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas and with all those who deny the Jewish character of the State of Israel and, therefore, disregard U.N. Resolution 181. It is a real pity as well as a paradox that those who think of themselves as the most virtuous in the world end up embracing such bad friendships.

In spite that there were more attendees to the funeral of old French rocker Johnny Hallyday than demonstrators of the so falsely feared "Arab Street", the EU argues that moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a unilateral initiative that puts the peace process in jeopardy. The first statement is true, legitimate, and legal; the second is just a fallacy. The United States decides where to establish its embassies as a prerogative of its national sovereignty and that is not subject to any international negotiation. Just as Israel has every right in the world to choose its capital. Just imagine if Brussels were to decide whether or not Madrid is our capital... However, the criticism against the American decision is based on the horror that Brussels has developed against any demonstration of national sovereignty among its member states — because its only raison d'être is to put an end to the sovereignty of nations. The EU’s leaders have not yet realized that times are changing and that they are going against the tide. Neither was history finished in 1989, nor have nations disappeared after the EU. It is quite the opposite.

In regards to the peace process, the Europeans are wrong once again. President Trump's decision makes it more viable, it does not push the process farther away. It is all for one simple reason: Until now the Palestinians have consistently refused to engage in sincere and direct negotiations with the Israelis, believing that the so-called "international community" would support them. Their refusal would buy them time and the longer it goes without a peace agreement, the more pressure would be placed on Israel to accept conditions once impossible to accept. The EU has always played that game. Trump's decision changes everything because it announces to the Palestinians that the United States is not a prisoner of the status quo. Moreover, it warns Palestinians that time is no longer running in their favor. That, incidentally, is also the silent message of the moderate countries in the region. Seen this way, Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is an incentive for the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table and sit down with realistic proposals, without expecting others, the EU or anyone else, to sort out their mess. A lasting and satisfactory peace agreement can only emerge out of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. If the EU insists on playing the mediator role, it will end up battered not only for the process, but in the entire region.

For our part, if Mariano Rajoy were not so busy touring Catalonia, where his mistakes are leading the Popular Party to an electoral debacle and Spain to a catastrophic scenario again, the Spanish government should support Trump's decision, recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and start the process to transfer the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It cannot be that expensive since Spain already has a consulate there that operates de facto as an embassy for the Palestinian Authority. It is time to do the same for the legitimate Israeli authorities.