Trum­pet­ing Jerusalem

The Jakarta Post - - OPINION -

Many world lead­ers, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Joko “Jokowi” Wi­dodo, have an­grily con­demned United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for of­fi­cially rec­og­niz­ing Jerusalem as the cap­i­tal of Israel. For the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent, his de­ci­sion is a mat­ter of le­gal tech­ni­cal­ity, po­lit­i­cal prac­ti­cal­ity and an op­por­tu­nity to show off his lead­er­ship mus­cle.

Protests and con­dem­na­tion have spread glob­ally, with crit­ics cry­ing foul over the pol­icy that de­fies in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions. But the un­pre­dictable Amer­i­can leader does not care about reper­cus­sions re­sult­ing from his act, like the rise of anti-Amer­i­can sen­ti­ment across the world and more acts of ter­ror­ism. Trump might still be­lieve in the US might and know well that the en­e­mies of Israel are pre­oc­cu­pied with in­fight­ing and quar­rels.

Trump in­sisted he sim­ply im­ple­mented the Jerusalem Em­bassy Act of 1995, which re­quires the re­lo­ca­tion of the US Em­bassy from Tel Aviv no later than May 1999. Since its es­tab­lish­ment in 1948, Israel has de­clared the holy city for three re­li­gions its cap­i­tal, although the United Nations has never rec­og­nized it.

For Trump, his recog­ni­tion of Jerusalem is merely part of the re­al­iza­tion of his cam­paign prom­ises, which also in­clude scrap­ping the Paris Cli­mate Ac­cord, ban­ning the en­try of cit­i­zens of cer­tain coun­tries, re­duc­ing taxes for the su­per-rich, ex­pelling un­doc­u­mented mi­grants and erect­ing high walls along the Mex­i­can bor­der.

Although Trump said his de­ci­sion “marks the begin­ning of a new ap­proach” to the end­less con­flict be­tween Israel and the Pales­tini­ans, we be­lieve his much-an­tic­i­pated an­nounce­ment on Wed­nes­day has only kick-started a catas­tro­phe.

Pales­tine is de­ter­mined that Jerusalem should be­come its cap­i­tal when one day it can achieve its long-stand­ing goal of be­com­ing a fully in­de­pen­dent state. Pales­tini­ans put lit­tle hope in Wash­ing­ton play­ing the role of an hon­est peace bro­ker, and Trump’s de­ci­sion has by all means killed any such ex­pec­ta­tion.

The sta­tus of Jerusalem is among the con­tentious is­sues of the decades-long peace talks, which have tabled a two-state so­lu­tion, apart from the right to re­turn and the is­sue of il­le­gal Jewish set­tle­ments that nev­er­the­less have ex­panded un­der the watch of the hawk­ish Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu.

Fur­ther, ten­sion will mount with Mus­lims wary of what will hap­pen with the Old City and the Al Aqsa Mosque if Israel moves to for­mally make all of Jerusalem its cap­i­tal. The mosque in East Jerusalem, at the cen­ter of bat­tle­grounds since the Cru­sades, has deep sym­bolic mean­ing to Mus­lims, who pray there ev­ery day.

But as we will see in­creased fury against the US, it is ac­tu­ally the lo­cal Pales­tini­ans who will bear the brunt of Israel’s rule. Nev­er­the­less, the Pales­tini­ans should also blame them­selves for Trump’s move, be­cause they have been un­able to forge unity vis-à-vis for­eign in­ter­ven­tion.

As a Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­try, In­done­sia has rightly spo­ken out to re­ject Pres­i­dent Trump’s de­ci­sion. Pres­i­dent Jokowi has placed Pales­tine’s in­de­pen­dence high on his for­eign pol­icy agenda. It is time for Jokowi to show the world that In­done­sia can do more than sim­ply joining the cho­rus of con­dem­na­tion against Trump’s reck­less­ness.

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