On the face of Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem should be a wake-up call that could inject a new life in the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace talks because it was met with almost a universal rejection including Washington’s main European allies and even Pope Francis.
However, emerging signs so far indicate that nothing much is going to happen in terms of reactions to this landmark decision that has been avoided by successive US administrations for the past seven decades. In fact reactions from Palestinians, Arabs and Muslim at large were relatively moderate than were expected. Even in Jerusalem itself the Friday prayer went smoothly and those attending disbursed quietly.
It is not only that the Palestinian cause is entering into a new phase, it is the whole region seems to be changing its skin and preparing to usher into a new era.
As far as Palestinian cause is concerned, and given the continuous settlement drive including Jerusalem itself pushed by the right wing segment of the Israeli political and religious right, the division within the Palestinian groups and the diminished Arab support the idea of the two states solution, for all practical purposes, is coming to an end.
It was interesting that even Saeb Erekat, the long-time Palestinian negotiator came to the conclusion that it is time to change strategy and that Palestinians should call for a one state and where they have equal rights as he told the New York Times. It is far-fetched that any government in Israel will agree to such proposal as it will compromise the Jewishness of the state, but the significance of Erekat statement it shows the conclusion reached by a key figure who has been spending years negotiating with the hope of furthering the two states solution.
Whether the forthcoming high level meetings hosted by the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation will push for formal ending of the Oslo agreements that failed in more than quarter a century to produce results remains to be seen, but more important is the alternative and how those concerned in Palestinian, Arab and Islamic worlds will come up with a new opening.
At this juncture where the Palestinian cause is in need of critical support to survive and push forward, the Arab world, which used to provide the much needed backing, is in dire state of divisions and soul searching following the Arab Spring, which despite everything brought to the fore the critical question of putting its house in order and developing consensus on issues related to freedom, development and the way forward politically and socially.
It was interesting that last month Israel and Britain celebrated one hundred years since the Balfour Declaration was promised. Over the years successive Israeli leaders, organizations and governments managed to put that promise into reality by making use of its relationship with a super power like Britain at the time, then
moved to the United States where it built an influence where even US presidents refrain from criticizing Israeli government even along the same lines as it is criticized by the Knesset.
But there is enough signals to indicate that Israel is working on a new strategic shift, where it will no longer depends on a foreign super power, who in the end may have its different interest that may not necessarily fall in line with those of Israel.
The current state of the Arab world where Pan-Arabism has faded away, its centers in Cairo, Baghdad and Damascus are more embroiled into their domestic affairs of how to make ends meet, more divisions in the Arab and Islamic world along tribal and sectarian lines are adding to the weakness of the region and more important the barriers that keeps Israel isolated within the region are crumbling and provided Tel Aviv with the golden opportunity to work on a new Middle East where Israel is de facto super power with enough war power, knowledge and institutions capable of exercising its superiority on the rest of the region.
The dream of Greater Israel from the Nile to Euphrates is not discreet or new, but now the conducive environment to make it happen is mushrooming.
Trump’s decision on Jerusalem has magnified that reality and the question now is how to deal with it in a way that breaks with all practices that led the Palestinians and the Arab to the current miserable state.
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