"Fatal blow to Israeli-Palestinian talks"
US President Donald Trump's statement about the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and transferring the US embassy there hit like a bombshell.
Despite the fact that Trump promised to take this step during his election campaign, until the last moment many observers believed that the geopolitical situation in the explosive Middle East region would force him to reconsider his position. According to the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who criticized Trump's decision, "this statement divided global communities into two very unequal parts". Indeed, not just traditional opponents of Americans didn't take to the US president's decision. Muslim partners and allies of the United States, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, sharply opposed the stated position of the United States. European allies have also spoken with one voice against Trump's intentions.
For example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not support the US President's statement and noted that the conflict can only be negotiated within the framework of a two-state solution. Other EU countries expressed similar positions, demonstrating a coordinated foreign policy approach, which is not frequent. If one takes a look at the expert opinions published in media, then a unified position can bee seen there.
"By its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Donald Trump dealt a fatal blow to the Israeli-Palestinian talks. Why should Mahmoud Abbas negotiate with his people or the Netanyahu team when the main component of the negotiations was crossed out? At the same time, more and more Israeli cities (called 'settlements') are built on the Palestinian territories," an expert on the Middle East, journalist Erich Gysling wrote in his article for the Swiss newspaper Blick.
"The US president says he is simply recognizing the reality. And every country has the right to choose a capital city. If only it was that easy in this particular case! Jerusalem has been half-occupied by Israel since 1967, and for fifty years the international community has insisted on the fact that the status of the city can be definitively determined only by reaching an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. There are relevant UN resolutions for this purpose, which were signed by the United States as well. Trump's decision means that this consensus is now invalid," the journalist emphasizes. According to Gysling, the US president's decision carries the risk of mass protests from the Arab world, including Turkey and Iran. "Donald Trump can calm himself with the fact that he has included the most important governments in the Middle East in his strategy, Egypt and Jordan - due to billions of dollars of financial support, Saudi Arabia - due to arm supply contracts. But will this suffice to calm the nationals of these countries and the Palestinians themselves?" the expert wondered.
The foreign policy spokesman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Karl Lamers, speaking with Deutschlandfunk, described Trump's decision on Jerusalem as "internally and intra-family motivated." Lamers welcomes the fact that the European Union, including Great Britain, expressed a common position on Trump's decision and spoke in favor of an active intensification of European policy in the Middle East: "The Near East is called a 'near' not because it is close to the United States, but because of its proximity to Europe. And Europe's policy in the region has so far been an absolute failure". At the same time, according to the politician, the EU is in an extremely difficult situation because of such Washington's position on Jerusalem and the Europeans need to strengthen their own independence from the US, while not confronting with their US partners. According to the expert, Saudi Arabia was also stunned by a sharp change in the course of the White House. The Middle East conflict requires intensive European participation with the involvement of regional states - such as Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
It is noteworthy that the former Israeli ambassador to Germany, Shimon Stein, was not thrilled with the new US policy in the region. "Trump negotiators have been in the region for the past few months to work out a plan with the Palestinians, Israel and moderate Arab states to resolve the conflict, but so far there is no such plan. So far I do not see a clear strategy of the administration to restore the negotiation process", Stein writes. The former ambassador also does not understand the principle by which Trump chose the time to announce the decision on Jerusalem: "Israel has lived without recognition for 70 years. What's the rush now? Regardless of the recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli city by the US, this city is for both Jews and Arabs." Stein expects that President Donald Trump, who regularly emphasizes his ability to conclude deals, will ask a favour in return after his curtsey towards Israel. At the same time, Stein stands for the settlement of the conflict on the basis of the principle of two states: "All other options will lead to a bloodbath."
A well-known Middle East expert, Michael Lüders, described Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and transfer the US embassy there as "the US president's second big mistake after announcing his intention to break off the Iran nuclear deal". "It's absolutely clear that both these solutions would not be conducive to settling the already simmering regional conflicts. The decisions only fuel them, and definitely will not help to calm the situation in the Middle East," Lüders noted.
The expert draws attention to the fact that the biggest individual Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, Nevada multi-billionaire casino magnate, supported Donald Trump's campaign with a generous contribution of $100 million. "He and other big tycoons demand from the US government and Donald Trump that they recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state at any cost. It is also interesting that in recent months Donald Trump entrusted the development of a policy in this direction to his son-in-law Jared Kushner. He, in turn, assembled a four-person team: three Orthodox Jews, and the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who is also a friend of the movement of building of Israeli settlements. They distributed the proposal without any regard for the interests of the Palestinians, and without calculating the fact that further development of the surprising rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel, which we have observed over the past months, will face considerable difficulties."