‘Game changer’ opening of US embassy in Jerusalem

As promised by Donald trump the US has moved their Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. This is being celebrated by Israelis and by some in the US, and Guatemala, Paraguay and Honduras are expected to follow suit, but Palestinians see it as provocative and an attack on their sovereignty  and violent protests have erupted. This is a predictable immediate outcome, something the US should have known would happen – perhaps it is what Trump and his administration, and the Israelis, wanted.

Reuters: Israeli forces kill dozens in Gaza as U.S. Embassy opens in Jerusalem

Israeli troops shot dead dozens of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border on Monday as the United States opened its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, a move that has fueled Palestinian anger and drawn foreign criticism for undermining peace efforts.

It was the bloodiest single day for Palestinians since the Gaza conflict in 2014. Palestinian Health Ministry officials said 52 protesters were killed and more than 2,200 injured either by live gunfire, tear gas or other means.

The bloodshed drew calls for restraint from some countries including France and Britain, and stronger criticism from others, with Turkey calling it “a massacre”.

The Israeli military said it was responding to violence from the protesters to defend Israel’s border.

In contrast to the scenes in Gaza, Israeli dignitaries and guests attended a ceremony in Jerusalem to open the U.S. Embassy following its relocation from Tel Aviv.

The move fulfilled a pledge by U.S. President Donald Trump, who in December recognized the holy city as the Israeli capital.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Trump for “having the courage to keep your promises”.

“What a glorious day for Israel,” Netanyahu said in a speech. “We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay.”

It doesn’t look very glorious in Gaza.

Also from Reuters:

Significantly Trump’s daughter and son-in-law are

Kushner and the Trumps will have known that their actions would provoke violence.

LA Times looks at Israeli celebrations: On the eve of the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel celebrates

“The truth is that not only has Jerusalem been the capital of the Jewish people for millennia and of our state for decades, but the truth is that under any peace deal Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced from a stage bedecked with American and Israeli flags at a gala held in the courtyard of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

He expressed gratitude to President Trump for the decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv. For decades, Netanyahu has exhorted the world to recognize and accept Israel as it is — with its capital, its parliament, its Supreme Court and its ministries in Jerusalem.

The ceremony Monday officially opening the embassy is expected to draw about 800 dignitaries, including U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner.

But they also points out that the US move is not widely supported.

The European Union, however, has criticized the new American position as an impediment to peace, and four European ambassadors attended the festivities.

The Palestinian Authority government, which has boycotted all contact with American officials since Trump announced the embassy move in December, issued a a statement saying the relocation signified a U.S. endorsement of “Israel’s policies and measures that undermine Palestinians’ fundamental rights.”

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

The Israeli celebrations coincided with Jerusalem Day, in which residents enjoyed a day off to honor the anniversary of the 1967 reunification of the city by Israeli forces that captured East Jerusalem from the Jordanian army.

Choosing that as the day to celebrate the US move could also be seen as a pointed snub to the Palestinians.

Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina, is leading a congressional delegation to the embassy dedication.

“Everybody has a claim to Jerusalem, from a religious point of view,” he said. “But I think the premier claim comes from the Jewish people, that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and it could one day be the capital of the independent Palestinian state.”

That sounds confusing. He seems to be implying a split city, but saying that “the premier claim comes from the Jewish people” is unlikely to satisfy non-Jews and is unlikely to pacify the anger.

The Jerusalem Post unsurprisingly applauds the move: GAME CHANGER

Instead of staying away from the embassy opening, all those who truly seek peace should see this as the start of a new era in the ancient city.

The opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem justifiably is being called a “game changer” and “historic.” Seventy years after the State of Israel was born and 51 years after the reunification of the capital, the US, the only world superpower, is not only recognizing Jerusalem’s integral importance to Israel, the Jewish state, but acting on that recognition.

This sends out several important messages, not least of which is the importance of not giving in to terror.

Some people have voiced opposition to the move on the grounds that it might give rise to a wave of Palestinian or Islamist terrorism in Israel or against Jewish or American targets abroad. Had US President Donald Trump accepted this line of thought, it would have only encouraged and rewarded terrorism instead of diplomacy.

There doesn’t seem to have been a lot of diplomacy involved in the US embassy move, apart from between the US and Israel.

The US Embassy move rights an historic wrong and makes clear the terms of any future peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. It removes from the agenda the question of Israel’s status regarding Jerusalem, which houses its parliament, Supreme Court, President’s Residence, almost all government ministries and, of course, the Jewish holy sites.

It makes it clear that Israel remains uncompromising and peace will only happen on their terms – which suppressses the rights of the Palestinians.

The move is a game-changer not least because Trump’s opening of the embassy in Jerusalem unequivocally tells the Palestinians that Israel is here to stay and that Jerusalem, at least west Jerusalem, is and will remain its capital. As The Jerusalem Post‘s Michael Wilner reported yesterday, senior Trump administration officials said Palestinian resistance to America’s opening of an embassy in Jerusalem is based on a “fantasy” unhelpful to their cause: the fantasy of having veto power over the fate of the storied capital.

But the Palestinians have no real power. As long as Israel maintains military control the Palestinians are likely to feel oppressed. Terrorism is terrible, but for a substantially weaker side it can be seen as the only option when the powerful ride roughshod over their rights.

The embassy move may well be a game changer, but it is a protracted and often violent game, and there is a real risk that the change will be no less ugly than it has been.