The smoke is beginning to clear in the wake of the Trump Administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. While it will be some time before the full ramifications of recognition are evident, some initial observations are in order.
- At least for the foreseeable future, the United States has disqualified itself as a steward over Israel-Palestine political processes, without there being a readily available alternative.
- After recognition, Jerusalem remains more contested, more divided, and inherently less sustainable than at any point since 1967. If anything, recognition highlighted all of this, rather than fixing things.
- In spite of Israeli promises and U.S. threats, the recognition elicited a sound rebuke from the entirety of the United Nations Security Council and a large majority of the General Assembly. The numbers and identities of those countries supporting recognition enhance Israel and Israel’s supporters in their fantasies of a non-existent united Jerusalem, and little else.
- Tensions remain high in Jerusalem, Amman, and beyond, but it will take time before we know just how destabilizing this move really was.
- Those in the Arab world who toyed with the idea of “selling out” the Palestinian cause have been taught a harsh lesson: you may want to, but you can’t. Jerusalem won’t let you.
- The openly acknowledged collapse of political processes has encouraged an already emboldened Netanyahu and Israeli hardliners to move ahead with a slew of additional policies aimed at capitalizing on a Greater Israel-friendly White House, in order to definitively close off the two-state solution in Jerusalem, both legally and with actions on the ground. Despairing of the U.S., Abbas is seeking alternative ways forward, while abandoning anything conciliatory, and has adopted the role of defiant national liberator, at times with inflammatory rhetoric.
- The final word has not been said, and this is an ongoing event. The next challenge related to recognition is Vice President Pence’s upcoming visit to Jerusalem, which contains the potential of fanning the flames.