AMP Report - December 19, 2017

The Politics of Jerusalem & the Arab World

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Fulfilling his election promise, President Donald Trump announced on December 6, recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

However, this reversal of longtime U.S. policy did not come out of blue. A series of reports published since December 6, unveil the role of major Arab countries in Trump’s not-unexpected announcement.

Israeli journalist and head of the Arab desk at the Israeli channel News 10, Zvi Yehezkeli said that the announcement could not have been made without coordination between Trump and his regional allies. News 10 claimed Saudi Arabia and Egypt gave US President Donald Trump the go ahead to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s low level representation at the Islamic summit on Jerusalem called by the current OIC head, President Recep Tayyib Erdogan of Turkey, perhaps gives credence to this Israeli claim. US client Egyptian President President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi sent his foreign minister Sameh Shoukry while Saudi Arabia was represented by a junior minister, state minister for foreign affairs, Nizar Madani.

Istanbul Declaration

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) issued the Istanbul Declaration on December 12 recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. "We confirm that we recognize the state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, and call the world to recognize East Jerusalem as the occupied capital of Palestine," the declaration said. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told the OIC summit that the U.S. President Donald Trump's decision is a reward for Israeli “terror acts.”

Tellingly, while the international community has almost unanimously disagreed with Donald Trump’s announcement, reports suggest that the announcement was done with the pre-agreement of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, with the Saudi Arabia going as far as, stating to the Palestinian President to accept a village on the outskirts of Jerusalem as the alternative Palestinian capital.

Saudi Arabia limits media coverage

Since the announcement, Saudi Arabia’s royal court has instructed the nation’s media outlets to limit the airtime given to protests against Trump’s announcement. According to a report by the Arab news portal The Middle East Monitor, the instructions were sent to managers of television and radio stations, as well as newspaper editors.

Additionally, both the Saudi and Bahraini embassies in Jordan warned their citizens against participating in the protests and demonstrations organized in Jordan against Trump’s decision. The Saudi embassy in Amman posted the following to its official Twitter page: “The embassy calls upon its citizens living in Jordan and its students studying in Jordanian universities to stay away from places of public gatherings and protests in order to protect their safety.”

Makkah and Madinah imams silent on Jerusalem

Tellingly the Saudi imams of the Grand Mosques in Makkah and Madinah did not mention the situation in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque during their Friday (Dec 8) sermons. Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem is regarded as the holiest place in Islam after the two Grand Mosques.

 Although the Imam did point out that the Kingdom “reiterated the legal rights of the blessed Palestinian people” and hailed King Salman and other Muslim leaders for seeking the best for Islam and Muslims, well-known Shaikh Maher Mu’eqili did not mention the issue of Jerusalem in his Makkah sermon.

Shaikh Abdullah Al-Bu’ejan, who delivered the Friday sermon in The Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, did not mention the Jerusalem issue at all. Instead, he discussed God’s miracles in the change of the seasons throughout the year.

Arab administrators (rulers) negotiated

Ibrahim Karagül, Editor-In-Chief of the Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak, believes that Arab administrators (rulers) negotiated with US, Israel over Jerusalem. In a televised discussion focusing on Trump’s intention to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Karagül said: “After Jerusalem, Mecca and Medina will be targeted. Young Arab administrators sat down to negotiate with the U.S. and Israel about Jerusalem for their own futures. Every country, including Turkey, is under the threat of the invasion project. From North Africa to Pakistan, it is necessary to foresee what will be done in this geography,” said Karagül.

“The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait formed a Gulf axis against Iran. They established frontiers and promised security for the Gulf. Today, the U.S. is telling the Gulf countries that their enemy is Iran, not Israel. They want to mobilize the Gulf against Iran,” Karagül said.

Zionism In The Light of Jerusalem

Jim Kavanagh, in his article - Zionism In The Light of Jerusalem” – argues that Donald Trump's official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is an embarrassment to the Arab monarchs and the Palestinian Authority functionaries, who for decades have collaborated in the task of subduing Palestinian rage as Israel went about its colonizing project holding out the promise that the good American Daddy and his kinder, gentler Israeli Jewish progeny would one day reward the Palestinians for their good behavior.

Kavanagh believes that Trump's Jerusalem announcement was the culmination of American politics. “His recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is the fulfillment, exactly as Trump says, of a promise that's been de rigueur for presidential candidates, and of the demand of a law (Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995) passed twenty-two years ago by overwhelming majorities in both Houses of Congress. Just six months ago, the Senate--including Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Kamala Harris, and Bernie Sanders--voted 90-0 to demand that Trump "abide by its provisions."

“We live in a country where powerful politicians and the wealthy donors who control them proclaim their fealty to Israel; where Israeli officials enjoy veto power over candidates for office down to the level of State Assembly,” Kavanagh emphasized.

Tellingly, the United States on Monday (Dec. 18) vetoed a draft United Nations resolution rejecting President Trump’s decision  to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital after all 14 other Security Council members backed the measure. Key US allies Britain, France, Italy, Japan, and Ukraine were among the 14 countries in the 15-member Security Council that backed the measure asserting that any decisions on the status of Jerusalem “have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded”.

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Executive Editor: Abdus Sattar Ghazali


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