A picture taken on December 6, 2017 shows a Palestinian man at a cafe in Jerusalem watching an address given by US President Donald Trump. (Ahmad GHARABLI/AFP)
CARO – 6 December 2017: As a businessman, American President Donald Trump does not talk or act like a politician, but instead uses a language that appeals to his supporters and backers regardless of the consequences on his country’s foreign relations, reputation and role. Relocating the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could be Trump’s most ‘reckless’ decision yet, unaware or even knowingly ignoring the Arab world.
“It was one of his pledges when he was running for presidency,” Nourhan el-Sheikh, political science professor told Egypt Today in statements on Wednesday. She added that Trump’s interests with the Israeli lobby within the United States is huge, “the decision will benefit him on both levels as an American president and as a businessman.”
After one year in the White House, Trump has not fulfilled many of the pledges he made during the elections; but the choice to fulfill this one now is not so surprising according to el-Sheikh.
“Maybe he is relying on the current Arabian disputes, wars and conflicts. Admitting that the majority of the Arab governments are witnessing their weakest periods is no wonder, so they might be thinking that this is the perfect time to announce their decision,” el-Sheikh explained.
So Trump has announced his willingness to turn the Israeli dream “that will severely damage the peace process in the Middle East” into a reality, but does he really knows what he is doing?
The decision is not difficult logistically according to the CNN, the U.S. already has a consulate in Jerusalem, all that the move entails is a simply change in the names between the consulate and the current embassy in Tel Aviv. Trump’s pledge is easily fulfilled and the interests are gained, but what happens to the U.S. relations in the Middle East; what about the Arab anger and the potential protests?
Arab countries have already issued several statements warning and condemning Trump’s decision. Most Islamic governments including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and even the Arab League have expressed their deep concern regarding the rage that could be provoked in the Arab community by the decision, but as we are still waiting on Trump’s final declaration which should be announced in the coming hours, it is not yet certain that he has listened.
In her statements to Egypt Today, el-Sheikh wondered if Trump would risk his good relations with some of the region’s governments including Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
“Relocating the embassy would provoke the Islamic world due to the great importance of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims all over the world,” King Salman of Saudi Arabia told Trump over a phone call on Tuesday. He added that the Saudi policy has always been to support the Palestinian cause until reaching a final settlement between Palestine and Israel.
In another statement on December 5, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that “Jerusalem is a red line” for Muslims all over the world. He threatened that this declaration would lead to Ankara cutting its diplomatic ties with Israel.
Hamas tweeted on December 2 warning of the consequences of the American announcement to move the embassy, calling to escalate the protests expressing their refusal and anger.
نحذر من مغبة ما يتم تداوله في وسائل الإعلام حول نية الرئيس ترمب الإعلان عن مدينة القدس عاصمة موحدة وأبدية لدولة الاحتلال.
In his article for The Independent, December 5, Robert Fisk wondered if Trump would be expecting a “warm welcome and traditional sword dance in Riyadh” the next time he visits it as he did, along with his Foreign Affairs Minister Rex Tillerson last May during his first tour as a president.
“In a way, we should have expected this: mad presidents do mad things… But is there no one in the White House able to restrain him?” Fisk continued.
What about the consequences beyond Muslims and Arabs?
This decision is also a waste of decades of peace efforts.
“The European government’s stances, which clearly refuses the decision should be taken more seriously by Trump; they are not torn up by disputes, conflicts and wars the same as the Middle East,” el-Sheikh told Egypt Today.
Some European and Asian countries are expected to take serious measures as a reaction over Trump’s declaration; she added however, “We hope that these measures will exceed the well-known diplomatic procedures.”
A survey carried out by Brookings Institution on December 1 showed that Americans do not completely agree with their president’s decision to relocate the embassy. Responding to the question “do you support or oppose the U.S. moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?” about 63 percent voted for oppose.
If Trump would listen to the advice, surveys, condemnations and warnings from most of the world’s leaders, he would refrain from announcing the decision, but in the coming hours we will know just exactly how Trump’s diplomacy works.
In a televised speech from the White House Wednesday night, Trump has officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
"Through all of these years, presidents representing the United States have refused to acknowledge Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Today, we acknowledge that Jerusalem is the Israeli capital. It is the right thing to do. It is something that has to be done," Trump stated.
Majority of the world leaders refused to acknowledge Trump’s decision, including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Britain, France, Canada, Morocco and Germany. “We refuse Trump’s decision. It is a unilateral and unfortunate decision which undermines the peace process.” Most of the leaders unanimously agreed. Other statements even described the step as a "declaration of war" and "kiss of death." Calls for protests and demonstrations went viral within the Arab world, as Trump himself said that he is expecting.
“There will, of course, be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement. But we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at peace and a place far greater in understanding and cooperation,” he stated during his speech.
Trump’s determination that this ‘refused’ declaration would actually be a step towards peace proves what Fisk has said in his article, December 5, "President Trump is bananas!"