Russia recognizes West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. No predicted dire consequences ensue. Trump should follow suit. If not now, when?
The IJN has published a Jerusalem 50 special section in order to recapture the magic moments of that utterly unexpected, glorious moment when the wall between East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem came down.
Political analysis on what that meant and continues to mean is endless. This was not our focus in the “Jerusalem 50” special section, just the miracle of Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem’s holiest place for the first time in 1,900 years.
One element of constancy governs all the politics since June 7, 1967: No one wants to see the city redivided. Not the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as their capital; not the UN, who still wants to internationalize the city; certainly not Israel, which has logically, theologically, historically, politically, geographically, economically, arterially, diplomatically and administratively declared Jerusalem, all of Jerusalem, as its capital.
In fact, the city functions as one city. Jerusalem’s municipal services extend to all parts of the city, including the Arab sectors. Arab citizens of Jerusalem vote in Jerusalem municipal elections. Perhaps most important, Arab citizens of East Jerusalem work throughout the city, including in West Jerusalem. Economically, the wall that divided the city, 1949-1967, came down not just physically and symbolically. Economically, the city is integrated.
Last month, out of the blue, Russia diplomatically acknowledged this — mostly. Russia issued a statement last April that East Jerusalem will be the capital of a future Palestinian state, and that the western half of the city is the capital of Israel. “ . . . we must state,” the Russia statement read, “that in this context [of UN-approved principles for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement] we view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
In response to this Russian statement, here is what did not happen: a paroxysm of terrorist attacks against either Russia or Jerusalem; wild-eyed denunciations by Saudi Arabia or any other Arab country; rejection by the Palestinian Authority or Hamas; or apoplexy from the US State Dept.
West Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Ho hum. It took 50 years. But Russia caught up to reality, or at least to part of it: West Jerusalem. All of the tendentious, anti-Israel, politically motivated — or genuinely fearful — predictions of the dire consequences of the US recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital did not occur when Russia did this a month ago.
Did you notice that you did not notice? That, in response to the Russian diplomatic recognition, everyone from the State Dept. to ISIS said nothing? That the EU, never late to condemn any Israel move in what it considers settlements — including all of West Jerusalem — said nothing? That the Palestinian Authority and Hamas said nothing?
President Donald Trump is going to Israel next week, when Israel marks the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. There is no better time for the US to burst the bubble of the Palestinian delusion that peacemaking will infinitely be postponed on the grounds that Israeli control over, among other spaces, West Jerusalem, will end. President Trump can burst that bubble with an official statement that need not be more than one sentence long: “The US recognizes Jerusalem (or West Jerusalem) as the capital of Israel.
Vladimir Putin did it. The US should do it.
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