Move deep­ens anger trig­gered by Kush­ner peace plan

Mus­lims re­peat­edly an­gered by US pres­i­dent’s Mid­dle East poli­cies

The Irish Times - - World News - Michael Jansen

Don­ald Trump’s de­ci­sion to recog­nise Jerusalem as Is­rael’s cap­i­tal and launch the process of shift­ing the US em­bassy to there from Tel Aviv, has stoked fears among Arab, Mus­lim, Chris­tian and Euro­pean lead­ers of a vi­o­lent back­lash over his break with the 70-year-old global pol­icy of re­gard­ing Jerusalem as a dis­puted city.

Arab lead­ers with close ties to the US will lose cred­i­bil­ity as they have been un­able to con­vince Trump to change his mind over Jerusalem. His stance is par­tic­u­larly em­barass­ing for Saudi king Sal­man and crown prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, who warmly wel­comed Trump to Riyadh last spring and hosted an Arab-Mus­lim jam­boree with the aim of cul­ti­vat­ing his sup­port of Saudi lead­er­ship.

Arab and Mus­lim lead­ers could be vul­ner­a­ble to at­tack if they do noth­ing to counter Trump’s move. Pales­tinian and Jor­da­nian calls for emer­gency meet­ings of the Arab League and Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Is­lamic Co-op­er­a­tion will not as­suage Arab and Mus­lim anger. Both bod­ies are widely seen as tooth­less talk­ing shops.

If Arab and Mus­lim gov­ern­ments fail to take cred­i­ble, con­crete ac­tion against the US, rad­i­cals at­tached to the al-Qaeda and Is­lamic State ter­ror groups could step up at­tacks against for­eign mil­i­tary and civil­ian ob­jec­tives. Is­raeli and US em­bassies, cit­i­zens of these coun­tries and US in­ter­ests could top the list of tar­gets.

Smart­ing from de­feats in Raqqa and Mo­sul, Is­lamic State fight­ers who es­caped the bat­tle­fields of Syria and Iraq and in­fil­trated or re­turned to Euro­pean coun­tries could mount op­er­a­tions in ur­ban cen­tres crowded with Christmas shop­pers and rev­ellers.

Al­though the Arab world is plagued by war­fare in Syria, Iraq, Ye­men, and Egypt, its lead­ers dare not ig­nore Pales­tine. It re­mains the core pan-Arab na­tion­al­ist cause and the strug­gle over Jerusalem has re­peat­edly trig­gered Pales­tinian vi­o­lence against Is­rael.

In­sulted and an­gered

A feel­ing among Pales­tinian Mus­lims and Chris­tians that they have lost Jerusalem – seen by them as their re­li­gious, na­tional and cul­tural cap­i­tal – could lead to a fresh up­ris­ing more vi­o­lent than the sec­ond in­tifada sparked by the 2000 elec­tion cam­paign visit of Is­rael’s Ariel Sharon to the mosque com­pound in Jerusalem, re­garded by Is­raelis as the site of an­cient Jewish tem­ples.

Trump’s over­throw of the Jerusalem sta­tus quo has deep­ened bur­geon­ing Pales­tinian anger over a peace plan – un­ac­cept­able to Pales­tini­ans and Arabs – to be pro­posed by his son- in-law, Jared Kush­ner. The plan would in­volve the cre­ation of a Pales­tinian state con­sist­ing of non-con­tigu­ous en­claves in the West Bank with Abu Dis, a West Bank vil­lage near Jerusalem, as its cap­i­tal.

For their fu­ture state, Pales­tini­ans de­mand the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its cap­i­tal. With­out the dream of self­de­ter­mi­na­tion in such a state, Pales­tini­ans could turn against the Pales­tinian Author­ity, which has failed to se­cure their state.

Mus­lims the world over are bound to re­ject and re­sent Trump’s ac­tion on Jerusalem. They have been re­peat­edly in­sulted and an­gered by Trump’s pro­nounce­ments and poli­cies, which they see as man­i­fes­ta­tions of prej­u­dice and dis­crim­i­na­tion against them.

His de­ci­sion on Jerusalem co­in­cides with the re-en­force­ment of the ban against the en­try into the US of cit­i­zens from six Mus­lim coun­tries. This travel ban was among the first de­crees is­sued by Trump after tak­ing of­fice and was ac­ti­vated a week after his in­au­gu­ra­tion.

Trump’s over­throw of the Jerusalem sta­tus quo has deep­ened bur­geon­ing Pales­tinian anger

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