At this moment, it looks as if President Trump will sign another six-month waiver maintaining the US embassy in Israel in Tel Aviv. However, he will also formally recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.
Many are predicting “the sky will fall” if the President does recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Pundits are warning of dire consequences to the move which will (1) damage critical US alliances with Jordan and Saudi Arabia, (2) weaken prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, and (3) provoke violent Islamic extremist attacks on US installations throughout the world.
In essence, the arguments against the President’s recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital have nothing to do with the merits of the issue. Rather, the arguments are based on a feared backlash in the Arab world.
There is a crucial precedent at issue in the Jerusalem decision: Should US policy be determined by what it believes to be “right,” or should US policy be held hostage by implicit threats – be they diplomatic and/or terrorist violence.
In this particular instance, there is no inherent reason for the United States to continue to delay its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and, in the near future, to formally designate its embassy to be in Jerusalem.
Of all the countries where the United States has formal diplomatic relations, Israel is the only country in which the US does not have its capital.
It should be beyond dispute to everyone that West Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Those who argue Jerusalem Is not the capital of Israel tend to be those who either refuse to accept Israel’s right to Jerusalem or deny Israel’s overall legitimacy.
By refusing to recognize Israel’s sovereign right to determine its capital city, the United States and other Western nations embolden Palestinian extremists who believe the US and the West actually support their claims that Israel is illegitimate. Failure to recognize Israel’s capital is an explicit challenge to the integrity of the Jewish State — thereby making a peace agreement more difficult to achieve and implement.
Experience has shown that diplomatic posturing does not equate with diplomatic actions. Jordan and Saudi Arabia might need to appear to be opposing a US embassy move, but the US alliance with both those countries far transcends any American decision on Jerusalem.
Nor should US policy be based on placating terrorist violence. Capitulating to terrorist blackmail has proven time and time again to be fruitless at best and disastrous at worst.
It would be outrageous for Islamic terrorists to attack US installations because the US recognizes Israel’s capital. All people of good will should affirm this unequivocally.
If President Trump recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he will have taken a courageous step in validating the State of Israel in the eyes of the Arab world. He should be applauded for it.