Less than Meets the Eye

14 May 2018


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

US Moves Embassy to Jerusalem


The US has moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in what some are calling an historic decision. While the symbolism is powerful, there is actually less to this than meets the eye. In practical terms, the location of an embassy in a country as small as Israel has no effect. In political terms, it marks the end of the US as an honest broker in the Middle East peace process. Yet, the US hasn't been an honest broker in years, and there is no process in the Middle East that can end in peace.

Initially, the move is making Israelis very happy and making Palestinians and their supporters unhappy to the same degree. There is some violence, and several have already died in protests. After a few weeks of the usual rioting and heavy-handed responses, though, things with return to the bizarre state that passes for normal there.

The US administration claims that this removes the status of Jerusalem from the negotiating board. When a final arrangement is made, Jerusalem will not be part of the discussion because it is the recognized capitol city of Israel. This presumes that the Palestinians are willing to come to a final arrangement if the status of Jerusalem is already decided by parties other than the Palestinians. In all likelihood, their price for sitting down to talks is an explicit statement that Jerusalem is still on the board.

There was a previous attempt to take the city out of the peace equation. Back in the 1940s, the UN proposed that the city of Jerusalem be given international status and administered by some sort of international body. It is, after all, a holy city for all three Abrahamic religions. That idea went nowhere fast because both sides wanted Jerusalem for themselves, and if that desire led to war, so be it. There is much talk, and little else, about the peace process. Neither side seems to really want peace. They want victory.

On the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, the US has underscored that it will not serve as an honest broker among the parties concerned in this portion of the overall Middle East conflict. It has come down heavily on the side of the Israelis. Right or wrong, that precludes the role of honest broker.

Yet, there is no peace process. There are no discussions on ending the conflict. For Israel, this move creates greater animosity. For the Palestinians, it ends any trust they might have had in the US being able to bring the Israelis to some sort of compromise. They may well look elsewhere for that, perhaps to Russia.

Looked at from Mars, the movement of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will stir up a great deal of emotion on both sides to no real purpose. Both sides still want mutually exclusive things, and passions are now greater, meaning violence is inevitably going to escalate. Meanwhile, the US has removed itself from the role of mediator, but that doesn't matter a great deal because there are no negotiations. The Palestinians haven't spoken with the Americans in more than six months. There is no way forward. Where the Americans put their embassy doesn't change that on way or another.

© Copyright 2018 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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