Sunday, December 18, 2016

The U.S. Embassy relocation as a true litmus test - by Yoram Ettinger

...The relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Israel's eternal capital, Jerusalem, will implement U.S. law, the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which enjoys massive support on Capitol Hill and beyond, but was not implemented by presidents who used national security as an excuse for noncompliance.

Yoram Ettinger..
Israel Hayom..
18 December '16..

Terminating the State Department policy which refers to the whole of Jerusalem as an international (not Israeli) city, recognizing unified Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and relocating the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, represent a litmus test of President-elect Donald Trump's resolve to make America great again by defying Arab/Muslim pressure and threats, as well as overruling the politically correct establishment of the State Department.

Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is, also, a litmus test of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's intent to leverage the nonconventional Trump/Pence worldview, which abhors domestic and international political correctness, respects firmness and the defiance of odds, recognizes Israel as a unique ally in the battle against the ayatollahs and Islamic terrorism, and is aware that U.S. national security interests transcend the Palestinian issue.

The decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem will usher in the Trump era, setting President Trump apart from his predecessors, underscoring the independence of U.S. unilateral -- rather than multinational -- action, distinguishing him from the U.S. and international foreign policy establishment and setting his worldview apart from that of the U.N., while reflecting the state of mind of most Americans.

Establishing the U.S. Embassy in Israel's capital will signal Trump's determination to resurrect the U.S. posture of deterrence, which has been eroded in recent years, underlying a realization that succumbing to pressure and threats fuels violence, while defying them deters rogue elements and advances security and the prospects of peace. For example, in 2011, the State Department warned the White House against vetoing a U.N. Security Council condemnation of Israel's settlement policy, lest it fuel terrorism. Contrary to the December 1988 U.S. recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the 1993 Israel-PLO Oslo Accord -- which intensified Palestinian terrorism and hate education -- vetoing the U.N. Security Council resolution was not followed by bloodshed.

While moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem would not undermine or prejudge the peace process -- since the Embassy will be located in pre-1967 Israeli west Jerusalem -- a failure to implement the law will further radicalize the Arabs, who cannot afford to be less demanding than the U.S., thus presenting more obstacles to the pursuit of peace.

The relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Israel's eternal capital, Jerusalem, will implement U.S. law, the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which enjoys massive support on Capitol Hill and beyond, but was not implemented by presidents who used national security as an excuse for noncompliance.

Relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem will also be consistent with the worldview of the early Pilgrims and the U.S. Founding Fathers, as reflected by the existence of 18 Jerusalems and 32 Salems (the original name of Jerusalem) in the U.S.

Jerusalem was central to the agenda of Israel's Founding Father and first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. In December 1949 -- at the end of Israel's War of Independence -- he declared Jerusalem Israel's capital, in defiance of brutal pressure from the U.S. and notwithstanding harsh opposition by Israeli President Chaim Weizmann and Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett, who predicted costly consequences, diplomatically, economically and militarily. Resisting the U.S. call to refrain from annexing -- and building in -- west Jerusalem, Ben-Gurion relocated government offices and the Knesset from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and built new neighborhoods all the way to the cease-fire lines, thus enhancing the stature of Jerusalem and Israel.

However, in 1995, I heard from a frustrated Senator Daniel Inouye -- who was Israel's leading supporter on Capitol Hill -- that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin collaborated with President Bill Clinton in pressuring U.S. senators to insert a waiver provision into the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which enjoyed a veto-proof majority. That waiver enabled U.S. presidents to suspend implementation of the law, supposedly due to national security considerations.

Similarly, in July 1999, Prime Minister Ehud Barak asked Senators Joe Lieberman and Jon Kyl to heed Clinton's request to shelve an updated version of the Jerusalem Embassy Act -- supported by 84 senators -- which would revoke the waiver provision, prescribing a $100 million deduction from the State Department budget upon nonimplementation. Barak contended that the initiative was "ill-timed" and would amount to sacrificing the peace process on the altar of Jerusalem. However, Barak's slapping the face of Israel's friends on Capitol Hill -- and his proposed unprecedented, reckless concessions to Yassir Arafat -- sacrificed Jerusalem on the altar of a failed peace process, further radicalizing Palestinian expectations, and therefore dooming the peace process.

Recent months suggest that Trump and Netanyahu realize that the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is their litmus test.

Trump has demonstrated his politically incorrect vigor to learn from the past by avoiding presidential errors, to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and to bolster the U.S. posture of deterrence, while projecting his own compliance with American law.

Netanyahu will not sacrifice the unique potential of the Trump/Pence team on the altar of political correctness, but will follow in the footsteps of Ben-Gurion, realizing the critical geostrategic impact of his attitude toward Jerusalem on Israel's power projection, deterrence of Israel's enemies and cooperation with the newly elected, politically incorrect American president.

Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of "Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative."

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