The search for peace and security in the Middle East is never-ending and should be never-ending until they are achieved. We hope we will get there soon, but if not, we should leave for others, as much as possible, the conditions under which peace and security can eventually be accomplished.
Israel is almost 70 years old. But the return to Israel was a search of almost 2,000 years. The search for peace and security with the Arab world started when hostilities began in 1948 after the nationhood of Israel was established.
Many difficulties have evolved the past 50 years — ever since the Israeli defense minister offered to return lands taken in the 1967 Six-Day War in exchange for a peace agreement.
It is not easy to achieve peace when the Palestinians tell the world they want peace but understand among themselves that peace means their control of all land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. That understanding leaves no room for a real peace process based on two lands for two peoples.
Much of the world supports two for two, but until the Palestinians do, there will be no peace, much less security.
But Israel and the United States should not give up the goal.
Some Israelis and some Americans look for a solution of one state where the Jews are in charge and the Palestinians are a second-class group, or a solution where the Palestinians are forced to join an amalgamation with Jordan or to leave the land for Jordan or another area. Some Palestinians and other Arabs see a one-state solution in which Arab citizens eventually outnumber the Jewish citizens, thereby eliminating the reality of a Jewish homeland.
What the president did in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Wednesday, Dec. 6, was unfortunate. It leaves less room for negotiators.
The administration was supposed to be working diligently on peace negotiations, a noble goal. So what does President Donald Trump do? He pokes the negotiations in the eye. Just look at the reaction by the Palestinians and others in the Muslim world.
His announcement that the U.S. Embassy will move to Jerusalem is ill-timed, uninformed and boneheaded. Trump said he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty or making any moves that would affect peace between the parties. How naive.
Trump’s reason is totally about himself. He is doing something none of the other recent presidents would do, and he is saying, “Look how well I am doing.”
As Jews, we understand that Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of Israel. Israel has the absolute right to determine the location of its capital. But this is about what the United States, not Israel, should do.
What is at stake? The safety of Israelis and Palestinians as a result of violent protests and the vilification of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces that will inevitably result from the attempts to quell the protests and restore order and safety to the streets of Jerusalem. The violence threatens to reverberate far beyond the borders of Israel and Palestine.
This move affects the influence of the United States, which is being further diminished, as evidenced by Mahmoud Abbas’ announcement that the Jerusalem decision ends the U.S. role as peace broker and the Saudis’ criticism of the move. The Palestinians refused to meet with Vice President Mike Pence.
These consequences raise the question of whether the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was necessary now and whether that recognition is in the best interests of Israelis, Americans and the international Jewish community. The Trump decision has sparked violence and eroded the U.S. position on the international stage.
The United States needs to be the constant through which a deal can be forged. It must not be a pebble under the mattress, a constant irritant.