After the U.S officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that Trump’s decision made a “historic day”. It might be indeed a turning point for the region, but for the worst.
U.S and Israel credibility at stake
Since his election, Trump’s approval rating has hovered between 35 percent and 38 percent, historically low. On top of that, his credibility on international affairs is weak, particularly on the Climate front as he failed to list climate change as a national security risk. The United States is the only country in the World not taking part of the Paris Agreement. More recently, the U.S was the only major country not attending the One Planet Summit. Furthermore, the U.S withdrawl from UNESCO gives the impression that Donald Trump gave up on the U.S leadership in what concerns the major challenges of the 21st century.
In Israel, PM Netanyahu is facing corruption allegations. Protests against government corruption have been going on for months, and ex-defense minister Moshe Yaalon declared: “Corruption is a bigger threat than Iran, Hezbollah or the Islamic State.” This statement implied that Netanyahu is a greater threat than the dangers he constantly warns against. Netanyahu’s attacks on the police and his attempts to change laws seem to be his last chance to save himself.
In fact, it was his military action in 2014 against Palestinians that brought down Israel’s legitimicy and credibility worldwide. Israeli bombings on the Gaza strip killed more than 2,300 Palestinians including children and injured more than 17,000, according to the annual report by the United Nation Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Israel killed more Palestinians in 2014 than in any other year since 1967. This conflict tremendously affected the world’s opinion of Israel.
In essence, the United States’ influence and credibility seem to be drifting away from international institutions due to President Trump’s actions, and Israel’s brutal policy in the region is revealing suspicious eyes across the globe questioning its real motives.
Tensions will increase between Israel and the European Union
PM Netanyahu’s visit to European Union leaders after Trump’s decision regarding Jerusalem was a complete outcry. Seeking endorsement on the recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, the response was pretty clear: NO. European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini declared that there is a full unity from European leaders: the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on the two states concept, with Jerusalem being the capital of both the state of Israel and the state of Palestine.
The European Institutions and citizens are traditionally very strict in what concerns human rights. Israel is currently in breach of, or has been the subject of, over 30 UN Security Council resolutions directed at it alone for violations. No action has ever been taken to remedy these violations of human rights. According to Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch: “Whether it’s a child imprisoned by a military court or shot unjustifiably, or a house demolished for lack of an elusive permit, or checkpoints where only settlers are allowed to pass, few Palestinians have escaped serious rights abuses during this 50-year occupation.”
For Human Rights Watch, Israel occupies the West Bank and Gaza Strip through repression, institutionalized discrimination, and systematic abuses of the Palestinian population’s rights. The U.N Security Council reaffirmed last year that Israel’s settlements have no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation of International Law.
Netanyahu’s pro-settlement Government is not helping to improve the situation with the Palestinians. It has been pretty clear that the opposite is happening. Likud Party politician Gideon Sa’ar, seen as heir to Netanyahu as he will run for Prime Minister, said today that the two states idea is over and it’s just a matter of time until the illegal settlements become part of Israel even though there is an international consensus to condemn Israel’s policy on settlements and Trump’s decision on Jerusalem. Even the highest Christian figure, the Pope, criticized Trump’s announcement and expressed deep concerns about Jerusalem. French President Emmanuel Macron told Netanyahu that the U.S recognition of the city as capital of Israel is a threat to peace.
If Israel does not reach out to Palestinians and gives up the idea of a two states solution, the risk of a cold war between Israel and the European Union is real. The consequences will be dramatic for the Israeli economy and for the Israeli citizens. In summary, there is nothing positive for Israel or the US coming out of Trump’s statement. Internationally isolated, the United States and Israel are playing a selfish and dangerous game as Donald Trump is sowing seeds for more frustration, injustice and violence on both sides, making the Middle East more unstable than it ever was before. In other words, it is the right recipe for enormous unrest in the region, if not war.