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Thursday 7 December 2017

Capital Brouhaha

With the simple pronouncement that the US recognizes Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel, Trump has invited world opprobrium, again!

No doubt this simple act is controversial, given the history and the passions on both sides. It is likely that there will be some immediate consequences. Hopefully minimal violence.

Yes Trump had been warned by all the doves in his administration, by the media, by the international community and indeed the Arab allies, that this act flies in the face of previous policy by US presidents. So it is indeed a brave step. Trump is however doing no more and no less than he said he would do. I guess it makes no difference that you are keeping your promises if it is contrary to what others want. (We have seen this in Aussie politics vis-a-vis the SSM plebiscite, Turnbull received widespread criticism for pursuing the people's vote option despite the mandate given at last election.)

The pronouncement is relatively fresh so there will, no doubt, be a lot written about this in the coming weeks. Yet some commentary seems extreme. Consider the claim, reported coming from Macron of France, that this is 'contrary to international law'. Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital in 1948. Under the UN partition plan Jerusalem was to be the capital of both the Jewish and Arab states. (It was at the time to be administered by the UN.) Was the UN's recognition against International Law? If not then how could the US's recognition of this be against International Law? Recognition of Jerusalem does not preclude it, or part of it, being the capital of a future Palestinian state, along the lines proposed in the UN Partition plan.

Of course a lot of water has gone under the bridge since that time. Especially with the Oslo peace accords in which a decision on Jerusalem was deferred till late in the negotiations. However peace 'negotiations' have  also been stalled for a long time.

By this simple act Trump is signalling that he will not be held hostage to Palestinian threats, and that their negotiating position will only deteriorate if they persist.  Who knows, it may even encourage them to return to real peace negotiations rather than constantly threatening to walk away virtual ones.

From the world reaction one would think that the US was the first country to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Not so in April this year Russia formally recognised West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and became the first country in the world to recognize any part of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

You hadn't heard about that? Neither had I till today. The world press it seems targets its political indignation towards the West and towards the US and certainly towards Trump.

Who will be next I wonder?

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