“The Daily” responds to Trump’s statement on Jerusalem

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Has Trump ruined the chances of reconciliation between Palestine and Israel or is it merely a scapegoat for a much deeper issue? That is the heated question on the table in today’s NY Times “The Daily” podcast.

“We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past. All challenges demand new approaches. It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” – Pres. Donald J. Trump

These are statements recently made by Pres. Donald Trump implying a corresponding move of the American embassy. A move which could inspire a plethora of reactions from the Middle East.

“Horror.”

“America just opened the gates of hell.”

“Unanimous condemnation from all corners of the Arab and Muslim world.”

“Declaration of war.”

— These are just a few of the reactions we’ve heard in response to Trump’s recent declaration.

The King of Jordan called it a blow to any hopes for settlement in the Middle East. A blow that could destabilize the whole region. The President of Turkey calls Jerusalem a “redline” for all Muslims all over the world. Iran sees Trump’s statement as a case of global arrogance and sign of desperation of US for its other failures in the region. Saudi Arabia sees it as a dangerous step for the entire region. Its long-term consequences would be disastrous for the U.S.

 

To understand the answer tquestion, we first need to know that Jerusalem is the very heart of the ancient Israeli

 

Michael questioned whether Trump’s declaration would confirm suspicions of the US taking Israel’s side under the guise of “mediator.”

Ann confirmed, explaining that there has been a long history to negotiations where this is concerned. She continued that Palestinians have given up various aspirations over the years when they decided to embrace idea of Palestinian state alongside Israel instead of taking over all of Israel. This “is like a blow nobody was expecting would go this far.”

Michael further questioned what these nations might do in response to Trump’s recent statement.

Ann explained that there will be more meetings, street protests, etc. But people are doubting that leaders in the larger muslim world will come together to do anything about it. She says that it is becoming clear that it is not a top priority anymore. “At one time it seemed the most important issue. Now it’s fallen down on list because of their own countries’ instability due to Arab revolts.” According to Ann, contributing factors have been wars in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, as well as contest between Saudi Arabia and Iran for dominance in region. Also, lots of social issues are contributing, such as economic stagnation and lack of political freedom.

An unknown voice in the podcast stated this – “They’ve failed to create stability for themselves.”

Ann explains this is the reason that Palestine is no longer at top of agenda.

Michael concluded that because of the more pressing internal issues, these countries have stopped thinking of it as most urgent thing in their world. He also suggested that they might be missing the point blaming Trump.

Ann responded that it only ratifies the lack of the peace process because there hasn’t been one. Other countries who were supposed to be backing Palestine are distracted by their own issues. This is test of whether or not there will be any action.

But there is another issue aside from Trump that could change the very state of the Middle Eastern world.

Enter Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s 32 year old Crown Prince. Ann states that he is known for making unprecedented bold political moves. Such moves include detaining the President of Yemen and Lebanese Prime Minister, as well as talk of Saudi Arabia joining with Israel to attack Iran. These arrests have been seen as a move by the Crown Prince to consolidate his power.

Furthermore, American officials are worried that he is destabilizing the region by rushing into domestic and foreign confrontations.

Thomas Friedman, foreign affairs columnist, met recently with the Crown Prince for an interview. He notes that part of the controversy that surrounds Mohammed is that he has been willing to reverse the  1979 implementation of fundamentalist Islamic Law.

Friedman explained that under his ruling women can now drive. He’s arrested radical religious intimidators off of the street and even allowed Toby Keith to perform a concert in Saudi Arabia.

So what does this mean for the future?

Friedman concludes with his concern about Yemen, Lebanon, and people being arrested in Ritz Carlton without due process. However, Saudi Arabia led the muslim world on a “right turn” that affected entire world. Now their Crown Prince wants to turn that around and that is huge. Something that cannot be overlooked.

 

Photo by U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv, 2017, via Flick

 

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