FZY is a pluralist youth movement. We have as many different Zionist opinions as we have members (if not more). In light of recent news about President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem, we wanted to share with you a selection of ideas and opinions, as broad and as thoughtful as our members are.
A Missed Opportunity, But Not the End of the World
From my dinner table, watching the US President announce that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel I could hear the sounds of American flags burning the world over.
The announcement was both remarkable and a non-story. Presidents G.W Bush, Obama and Trump had all before taking office publicly stated that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. The Russian foreign ministry announced in April they recognised West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and now the Czech Republic and the Philippines are holding a similar position. What is remarkable as no US President has said that as President, making it official US foreign policy.
Jerusalem has been, since the 1949 armistice the capital of Israel as defined by Israel as a sovereign state. All the key factors that make a city a capital e.g seat of legislature and executive exist in Jerusalem. Beyond that, Jews have been the owners and settlers of Jerusalemite lands from as early as the time of Joshua.
I Chronicles explains that Joshua bought the site of the Temple Mount for 600 gold shekels (Verses 21:22-22:1). We don’t just have, as Jews a right to live in Jerusalem by conquest, but by recorded financial transactions that go from Joshua to Moses Montefiore buying the area that became Mishkenot Sha’ananim and more.
The US, Russian and other countries recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a logical recondition of the status quo.
Crucially, all the recognitions have had the proviso that it not change the status quo of the Temple Mount or prejudice the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Trump also made clear that while he recognised Jerusalem was the capital, its exact borders were not fixed. This leaves it clearly open for the expected deal to be Israel retaining sovereignty over West Jerusalem and Jerusalemite settlements like Ma’ale Adumim and the Palestinians getting East Jerusalem neighbourhoods as a capital. As for the sovereignty of the Old City, squaring that circle will be tricky to say the least.
Yet, the announcement by the US President could have been more, if it had been paired with clear Israeli concessions. This would have been the perfect time for the Israeli government to announce a moratorium on West Bank construction (with the exception of the Amona relocation). Then, trying to watch the international reaction being universally against the Jerusalem recognition would be fascinating, as the one issue the international community cares about is settlements. Whether justified or not, the UN and regional powers would have been on much weaker ground contemning the move as they would ahem seen clear Israeli concessions, and Israel still gets the Jerusalem recognition it has dreamed of.
Trump should have made that deal, but for reasons best know to him, he made a decision which was hugely divisive and benefits Israel infinitely more that it does his Arab allies or the Palestinians.
Dr. Husam S. Zomlot, the PLO’s representative in the US said yesterday ‘We recognise Israel on 78% of our land’. Unless this attitude towards Israel’s existence changes, even dividing Jerusalem won’t ensure there is lasting peace between Israeli’s and Palestinians.
Jerusalem compromises are still possible, Israel has in the past provided reparations to displaced Old City families after the 1967 war. Doing so for displaced Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem would be doable as well, subject to new free housing provided to the displaced. As for the reparations money, if the Israeli’s conceded on some East Jerusalem settlers the International community would happily foot the bill.
Peace is still possible, hard decisions and compromises must be made by Israelis and Palestinians. The US announcement on Jerusalem has not changed anything in that regard.