U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after Trump's address at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem May 23, 2017 -
CAIRO – 16 December 2017: Most Arab countries exhibited rejection, condemnation and demanded America to reconsider its decision of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as well as specifying paths for dealing with and counteracting the consequences of the decision on many levels.
Dimensions of Arab moves:
A straightforward reading of the totality of Arab moves, especially when taking into consideration the meeting between Arab ministers of foreign affairs and the ongoing Arab correspondences, indicate the following:
The Arab moves against the American decision did not go past the level of foreign affairs ministers, and did not reach the level of Arab presidents and sovereigns in any way; and although the option for holding an Arab summit in Jordan remains open, this would take place only if no positive results come of the current actions.
The clarity of the Egyptian–Jordanian–Palestinian coordination has become obvious in the recent political correspondence between respective parties; however, such coordination could not crystallize in the form of a specific action. Jordan is already in charge of Islamic holy sites as per a tripartite agreement with Israel, yet the deterioration of Jordanian-Israeli relations after the Israeli embassy decision may hinder any Jordanian interference as well as the country’s exercising pressure on Israel because of an atmosphere of fear on the Jordanian side due to recent far right Israeli chatter of the reestablishing the “alternative state” once again.
The interchange of the paths of Arab action against Israel from mere official and public denunciation to reservations against the American administration’s decision and demands that Arab countries reconsider their policies towards the current American administration. Some even took it as far as proposing a substitute for the American partner in the coming phase of the peace process, which is a matter that necessitates considerable experience and calculations owing to the highly complex and highly tangled Arab-American interests.
Arab-American relations are based on cost, expense and returns, which explains the language of “deals” that the American administration speaks under President Donald Trump. This means that recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is only the beginning, not the end of Trump appeasing his financial relations. Continuing down this road – as the Israeli government plans to do – could even impact return rights and settlements.
There are speculations that soon, the American administration will move from the current Plan A to B when concerning the peace process. This administration refrained from political and strategic intervention for a year, and only proposed a project for peace economics that recycles Israel’s proposal of regional cooperation, which was made in the early 1990s. Therefore, what Vice President Mike Pence and advisors Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt will bring to the table could be a strategic lapse that could take Arab stakeholders back to square one. This is especially true in light of the decision on Jerusalem, regardless of implementing it on the ground, as procedures could take years for that to happen.
Problems to be considered:
Arab reactions to the American administration’s decision on Jerusalem have some intrinsic problems, especially in light of the recent meeting between the Arab Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and with the need for reconsidering inter-Arab relations in the future. The most important problems are as follows:
Firstly, before talking about approving or rejecting the decision or future relations with the American administration, there is the question: “Can an Arab summit be held to review the declared standpoints on Israel and the United States?”
Secondly, how can Arab-American relations be monitored, analyzed and predicated, especially as they are enclosed in a narrow circle of security, strategic and interest-based alliances? Nobody can compete with America’s presence in the region, not even Russia or France. The idea of an alternative to the U.S. remains theoretical, especially in light of Paris’ failures and the prospect of the Moscow for Middle Eastern Peace Conference being put on hold.
Thirdly, the limited Arab predictions do not stop at the possibility of the Palestinian-Israeli situation leading to multiple scenarios, so far, reactions have only resulted in a military confrontation (which started when the Gaza Strip was attacked) and the rejection of agreed-upon solutions for the Palestinian division. This could lead to Palestinians to reconsider the framework suggested for reviving the Palestinian state, which could take some time. Legislative and presidential elections could be postponed. The new structure of the PLO will also need to be determined.
Fourthly, Arabs’ reactions in the future will be mostly propositions of theoretical and practical options, but no solutions. Arab disparities and the aftermath of the Arab problems will continue to govern Arab and Islamic decisions, given that what happened at the Arab League of States meeting could happen again, only with some minor differences in the upcoming Islamic Conference summit.
Therefore, Arab countries will need to agree on a new approach to deal with the American administration, based on a new policy they could attempt to deal with the Trump administration. The Trump administration could exert serious pressures on Arab countries to push for an unjust settlement. It could also sabotage all rules governing the Arab-Israeli conflict, which could constitute in a real and serious challenge.
Fifthly, Arab concerns are not limited to being about the American administration that refused to consider factors outside the limits of its interests and all the agreements it concluded. It overturned all the achievements other prominent American administrations have made. This means that the administration and its President will be difficult to deal with, especially of the Arab world is waiting for the peace projects or settlements they will propose and not enacting their own solutions. Therefore, Arab countries are required to take a firm stand, moving on from old Arab policies no longer suitable for our times, as the whole region continues to change and the features of this change are beginning to show.
The Palestinian people’s legitimate rights require serious a Arab standpoints against the plan to trivialize its core issues. It needs to be dealt with as the most important issue. The whole region will continue to be unstable if the independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital is established on the bases of illegitimate resolutions.
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