September 24, 2020

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12/06 Links Pt1: Trump to recognize Jerusalem as capital, plan embassy move; Netanyahu: Today, Israel’s national identity is recognized

From Ian:

Trump to recognize Jerusalem as capital, plan embassy move, White House confirms
US President Donald Trump will announce in a speech on Wednesday that he is formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while asking the State Department to formulate a plan for moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, White House officials confirmed Tuesday evening.

The recognition of Jerusalem, widely expected to anger the Arab world and cast a shadow over US-led peace efforts, will also be accompanied by Trump committing to support a two-state solution should both Israel and the Palestinians back it, the officials said, in a likely bid by the administration to balance the announcement seen as heavily favoring Israel. Israel’s leadership has warmly welcomed the anticipated Trump moves on Jerusalem.

Trump will stress that the “boundaries” of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem require negotiation in the context of a peace accord, the officials said, and they added that his moves do not constitute a change to the status quo at the Temple Mount.

“On December 6, 2017, President Trump will recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” one US official said, confirming a series of reports on Trump’s planned speech from the White House, slated for 1 p.m. Wednesday ( 8 p.m. in Israel). The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The White House repeatedly referred to the recognition and embassy move, which will likely take years, as “acknowledging a reality,” noting the city’s role as the seat of Israel’s government but disregarding Palestinian claims there.

Netanyahu: Today, Israel’s national identity is recognized

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided not to comment on the expected American announcement Wednesday declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital, he posted a video hinting at the upcoming event, saying that on this day, Israel’s national identity is “being recognized.”

U.S. President Donald Trump was expected to officially announce Wednesday that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that it is making preparations to move its embassy there, breaking with longtime U.S. policy and potentially stirring unrest.

In an impromptu video featuring the prime minister riding in his car to the Knesset, Netanyahu remarked that “our historical, national identity is being recognized in important ways every day, but particularly on this day. I will obviously have something to add to this later today on something having to do with Jerusalem.”

Jerusalem Mayor: US Embassy move can be done in ‘2 minutes’

Moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the holy city could take “two minutes,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said Tuesday.

Senior U.S. officials have said U.S. President Donald Trump is likely on Wednesday to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital while delaying the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv for another six months, though he is expected to order his aides to begin planning such a move immediately.

As an outcry grew across the Middle East and among world powers against any unilateral U.S. decision on Jerusalem, officials said that no final decisions had been made.

Barkat said the United States would only have to convert one of its existing assets in the city, such as its existing Jerusalem consulate.

“They just take the symbol of the consulate and switch it to the embassy symbol – two American Marines can do it in two minutes, and give the ambassador, David Friedman, a space to sit in,” Barkat told Israel Radio.

Barkat said that this decision could be implemented immediately, and the process of moving the rest of the employees to provide embassy services could take place in a more structured manner.

Trump Happiness Montage

Of Course Jerusalem Is Israel’s Capital

How long do you think there has been a Jewish temple on Temple Mount in Jerusalem?

That is a question I like to ask when I’m leading a discussion with Israelis or Jews from other countries. The most common response is, “Two thousand years.” But that’s actually the answer to a separate question: How long ago did the Romans destroy the Second Temple, beginning the Jewish exile?

According to many scholars, there was a temple on that site for nearly 1,000 years before the Roman destruction. That would mean that for about 3,000 years, Jerusalem has been the center of the Jewish people: a physical center when a temple was standing, and a center for prayer and longing from afar after the Jews were dispersed around the globe. Every year, at the very end of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, and at the end of the Passover Seder, Jews recite, “Next year in Jerusalem.”

Then the Jews came back. In the 19th century, Jews began building neighborhoods and settling outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City. Then the Six-Day War of 1967 ended the short Jordanian rule over the Old City and united Jerusalem under Israeli jurisdiction. But this return has proved more controversial internationally. Even the United States, Israel’s closest ally, has not recognized the city as our capital even though our government has been based there since 1949.

President Trump will reportedly soon change that, and even announce that he is moving the United States Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. “Next year, an American Embassy in Jerusalem” was never in our prayers, but it’s still something we welcome as a sign of support — and a recognition of reality.

Not that a statement from an American president will actually change Israelis’ commitment to Jerusalem. This is our capital and it always will be. It was taken away from the Jewish people by force. It was recaptured by force. If necessary, it will be preserved under Israel’s jurisdiction by force, too.

Why It’s Precisely the Right Time for Trump to Recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

Ahead of his expected recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday, US President Donald Trump has faced a virtual torrent of criticism.

He should pay the critics no heed. The move is not only morally the right thing to do, it’s also a political masterstroke. Let me explain.

Generally, the critics can be divided into two categories.

The first group — among them the Ramallah-headquartered Palestinian Authority and Gaza Strip-ruling terror organization Hamas (along with various Arab and Muslim states, and even the US State Department) — has made the case against recognition as being vital to prevent the inevitable violence and outrage that will follow as a result.

But Arab blackmail doesn’t feel like a compelling argument against implementing American law and doing what’s right — certainly for the United States. In addition, neither of these entities has much of a track record in furthering the cause of peace.

The second group, who are generally supportive of the move, have questioned the timing — ahead of the expected unveiling of a White House peace initiative in the coming weeks.

The timing, however, appears to be very well considered. It’s highly appropriate to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at the outset of a peace push for the following reason:

When Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, whom Trump has tasked with the Mideast peace brief, embarked on their “listening tour” soon after the president took office, they were advised by at least one regional actor that, in the words of Albert Einstein, one can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. In many ways, it seems that this word of advice — frankly, a matter of common sense — has served as a guiding principle in the nascent peace efforts.

From what we have seen so far, the peacemaking team has sought to implement new approaches on at least four fronts.

A Two State Solution for Europe?

A poll conducted this summer found that 29% of French Muslims found Sharia to be more important to them than French laws. It also found that 67% of Muslims want their children to study Arabic, and 56% think it should be taught in public schools.

A 2016 UK poll showed that 43% of British Muslims “believed that parts of the Islamic legal system should replace British law while only 22 per cent opposed the idea”. Another poll from 2016 found that 23% of all Muslims supported the introduction of sharia law in some areas of Britain, 39% agreed that “wives should always obey their husbands,” and 52% of all British Muslims believe that homosexuality should be illegal.

French President Emmanuel Macron blamed France, not Islam, for the increased radicalization, which he said should lead France to “question itself.” According to Macron, then, the parallel Islamic societies of France, have nothing to do with Islam. They are the fault of the French republic. Did the French republic impose sharia and the subjugation of women in the suburbs, described by one female survivor as “hell”? Was the French republic behind the recent distribution of leaflets stipulating “if you meet a Jew, kill him”?

Trump opens the door to peace

Several days before the U.S. presidential elections, the Republican Party held a conference in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Temple Mount and Western Wall were visible from the balcony of the conference room. The last rays of sunlight glimmered against the Jerusalem stone. Israeli and American flags waved in the evening breeze, dancing in unison. Dozens of television stations broadcast the event across the United States.

When I heard Donald Trump’s recorded greeting and his commitment to the Jewish people and the State of Israel, my spirit was lifted and I was filled with the hope he would win the elections. After the bitter taste left by the Obama administration, it was time for something sweet.

Now, according to an increasing number of reports in the media, President Trump on Wednesday will declare that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and will perhaps also give the order to prepare the groundwork for relocating the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The anomalous situation, whereby the embassy is not located in the capital, will come to an end.

When the American continent was still desolate, the Jewish nation had already crowned Jerusalem its eternal capital. King David and the prophets of Israel established and cultivated a tremendous spiritual legacy in the city, thousands of years before the U.S. Constitution adopted some of the principles imparted in our holy scriptures. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, with or without the world’s recognition.

America is re-establishing reason and a respect for facts

Being democratic today means understanding that the enemies of Israel are not only afraid of its weapons, but also of its sensational ideals, on which the Israelis have built their beautiful capital.

Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years and the capital of the State of Israel for 70, whether or not that is recognized by the UN, the EU, Erdogan, Jordan and all those who have always worked with blackmail, threats and wars to turn Israel into an ever smaller ghetto and erect a “Palestine” in its place, not alongside of it. No physical and diplomatic jihad will ever take Jerusalem from the Jews.

The Arab-Islamic world and the Palestinian Arabs themselves, will always find what they see as valid reasons for “burning up the region”. They have always found or manufactured reasons. Tens of thousands of Israelis have been killed in these extraordinary 80 years of war. If the Damascus gate in Jerusalem resembles Israel and not the Syrian Damascus it is only thanks to the Israeli presence.

Much of the international community does not recognize even pre-1948 Israel (see the boycott of Jeremy Corbyn and others of the Balfour Declaration), let alone the post-1967 Israel, the eastern part of Jerusalem where much of Jewish history took place.

Europe has betrayed Israel. Only America can and must do the right thing. And the right thing is to certify the inalienable and millennial Jewish right to the most beautiful city in the world.

A macabre joke circulated at the airport during the harrowing weeks preceding the 1967 war was “The last one to leave turns off the light”. Today, Jerusalem is full of lights. Hallelujah! Next year in Jerusalem!

BACKGROUNDER: History of Jerusalem

Jerusalem is considered a holy city by three major faiths—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—and figures prominently in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Since 1004 BCE, when King David established Jerusalem as the capital of his kingdom, there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Jerusalem, the holiest city in Judaism. Following the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the designation of other holy sites by Constantine the Great in 333 CE, Jerusalem became a destination of Christian pilgrimages. During Umayyad rule from 661 to 750 CE, the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque were built on the site where the Jewish Temples had once stood, and Jerusalem became the third holiest city in Islam.

Jews have constituted the largest ethnic group in Jerusalem since 1820. According to Yehoshua Ben-Arieh, “In the second half of the nineteenth century and at the end of that century, Jews comprised the majority of the population of the Old City …” (Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century). Martin Gilbert reports that 6,000 Jews resided in Jerusalem in 1838, compared to 5,000 Muslims and 3,000 Christians (Jerusalem: Rebirth of a City). Encyclopaedia Britannica of 1853 “assessed the Jewish population of Jerusalem in 1844 at 7,120, making them the biggest single religious group in the city.” (Terence Prittie, Whose Jerusalem?). And others estimated the number of Jewish residents of Jerusalem at the time as even higher. Until about 1860, Jerusalem residents lived almost exclusively within the walls of the Old City, in east Jerusalem. Between 1860 and 1948, Jews lived in both eastern and western Jerusalem.

During the 19 years when Jordan occupied eastern Jerusalem and its holy sites (1948-1967), Jerusalem was divided. Jews were expelled from eastern Jerusalem and barred from visiting their holy places.

As a result of the Six Day War, the entire city of Jerusalem and its holy sites came under Jewish control. Israel reunified the city, extending Israeli law, jurisdiction and administration to the parts previously occupied by Jordan. The Israeli Knesset passed laws to protect holy sites and ensure freedom of worship to all, and offered Israeli citizenship to Jerusalem’s Arab residents, most of whom declined.

TV: Netanyahu and aides were ‘active partners’ with Trump team on Jerusalem move

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his aides have been “active partners” working in “total coordination” with US President Donald Trump and his administration in the lead-up to the president’s anticipated speech Wednesday recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and declaring his intended relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel’s Hadashot TV said Tuesday evening.

Trump’s phone call to Netanyahu on Tuesday updating him on his scheduled Wednesday speech was not their first recent conversation on the highly sensitive subject, Hadashot news reported. Netanyahu’s team has been “encouraging, supporting, [and] reassuring” the Trump team over the likely fallout, the TV report said, “and this total coordination came while the Palestinians knew nothing about this move” until very recently. “They’d heard nothing about it.”

Channel 10, meanwhile, said Netanyahu and Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer have been privy to the details of what Trump is planning, and had played a key role.

Trump “accepted the Israeli argument that said, Let’s separate the issue of Jerusalem recognition from the peace process. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Ambassador Dermer succeeded in convincing President Trump that this is a case of righting a historical wrong,” Channel 10 reported. (In fact, candidate Trump, while on the presidential campaign trail, pledged to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.)

In response to a threat by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to consider severing ties with Israel over Trump’s expected recognition, Israel’s Minister of Intelligence Yisrael Katz declared earlier Tuesday: “There is no more historically justified and correct step now than recognizing Jerusalem, which has been the capital of the Jewish people for the past 3,000 years, as the capital of Israel.”

Overall, however, the TV reports said Netanyahu has asked his ministers not to speak out on the issue ahead of the Trump speech on Wednesday. And the Channel 10 report said Trump specifically asked Netanyahu to “keep a low profile” and see to it that Israel’s ministers do not demonstrably “rejoice” over the move, for fear of exacerbating a highly tense situation.

Netanyahu did not make any public comments on the issue on Tuesday.

US officials: Trump’s Jerusalem endorsement may include two-state support

The parties involved wanted to continue with the peace process regardless of the new US stance on Jerusalem, the officials said.

There is no benefit to “walking away” nor would that “advance the cause of peace” because the best way to achieve peace “is to remain engaged,” the officials said.

Trump stressed his commitment to the peace process in his phone conversation with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, telling him that peace was “real” and “within reach,” the officials said.

He could not have been more clear, forthright and optimistic during his talk with Abbas, the officials said.

“The President very much wants to see the success of the peace process. He understands the Palestinians aspirations. He knows what they want and he is trying to find a way to achieve those goals,” the officials said.

To date, recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been held hostage to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The eighty-seven countries with embassies in Israel have placed them in the Tel Aviv area, rather than Jerusalem.

Just last Thursday 151 UN member states voted in the General Assembly to disavow Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.

Earlier this year, Moscow recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, becoming the first country to acknowledge Israeli sovereignty on a portion of the city.

Trump’s announcement, however, carries more weight because the US is a Western power and has historically been the leading broker of the peace process.

Additional nations said to consider moving embassies to Jerusalem

US President Donald Trump’s expected Wednesday announcement that the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and plans to move its embassy there from Tel Aviv has reportedly led leaders of other countries to express interest in moving their missions to the city.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte sent a message to Israel that he wanted to move his country’s embassy to the capital, Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reported Wednesday.

Other countries have also contacted the Foreign Ministry, some of them to explore moving their embassies to Jerusalem, the report said, including an unnamed state in Eastern Europe.

Duterte, widely criticized for mass extrajudicial killings, announced in May that he was planning to visit Israel.

Though leaders of countries around the world have criticized the planned move by Trump, with some Muslim nations warning it could lead to an “escalation” of tensions, in Jerusalem the news was welcomed.

UN peace envoy says Jerusalem’s status shouldn’t be decided unilaterally (not satire)

A senior United Nations official said Wednesday that Jerusalem is central to both Israelis and Palestinians, and argued that the city’s status should be negotiated between the two sides.

Nickolay Mladenov’s remarks come hours ahead of US President Donald Trump’s expected recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move largely welcomed in Israel but denounced by the Palestinians along with much of the rest of the world.

“For the Jewish people, Jerusalem is and always will be the center of their life, their culture, for thousands of years. It is and it will always be,” Mladenov, the UN’s special coordinator for the peace process, said at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic conference in the city’s Waldorf Astoria hotel.

“It is also the center of life for the Palestinian people. It is and it will always be,” he added. “It will always host Christian, Jewish and Muslim holy sites. This is what makes Jerusalem so universally important to everyone, and this is what makes any decision on Jerusalem so emotional.”

German Foreign Minister Unironically Calls for ‘Solution to the Jerusalem Problem’

German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel does not support President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, according to the Washington Post. “We all know the far-reaching impact this move would have,” he said in an interview. “Germany’s position on this issue remains unchanged: A solution to the Jerusalem problem can only be found through direct negotiations between both parties. Everything which worsens the crisis is counterproductive.”

Leaving aside Gabriel’s conventional pro-Palestinian policy analysis, maybe he could have chosen his words more carefully?

And maybe European governments might want to sit this one out? The Washington Post goes on to say that word of President Trump’s announcement “dominated European news coverage Wednesday, especially in countries such as Germany, France, and Britain where anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise in recent years—partially due to an escalation of tensions between Israel and Palestinians.”

That’s one way of looking at it, we suppose. Reporters never waste an opportunity to blame Israel for Europe’s troubles. Another way of looking at it is that rising European anti-Semitism has coincided with rising European Islamism, rising European secularism hostile to Jewish particularity and ritual, and rising European nationalism of the kind that led to the murder of six million European Jews less than a century ago. The Boycott Divest Sanctions movement, the spearhead of global efforts to delegitimize the state of Israel, is also strong on the continent, where goods made in Jewish communities in the West Bank are required to carry a warning label. Little surprise that Jews are leaving places like France in record numbers.

Feinstein Urges Trump Not to Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Despite Voting to Move Embassy to Jerusalem

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) on Tuesday castigated the idea of moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying it would be a “terrible decision” despite previously voting for the embassy move to take place.

“Reports indicate the president will move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” the California senator tweeted. “I wrote him last week to explain why that would be a terrible decision.”

In an attached letter to Trump dated Dec. 1, Feinstein wrote that moving the embassy would “spark violence and embolden extremists on both sides of this debate.”

The California Democrat stressed that the U.S. must remain neutral in the debate over Jerusalem’s status, and that moving the U.S. embassy there or recognizing the city as the capital of Israel would “undermine any remaining hope for a two-state solution.”

Feinstein’s tweet came on the same day that President Donald Trump told Israeli and Arab leaders that he plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the embassy there. Trump is expected to announce his decision on Wednesday.

May to call Trump as Britain voices ‘concern’ over Jerusalem plan

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Wednesday she will be calling US President Donald Trump about his plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital after her foreign secretary expressed concern.

“I’m intending to speak to President Trump about this matter,” May told parliament, referring to Trump’s stance on Jerusalem, which has sparked international cries of alarm.

“Our position has not changed. The status of Jerusalem should be determined as a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians and Jerusalem should be a shared capital,” she said.

As he arrived for a NATO meeting in Brussels, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said earlier on Wednesday: “We view the reports that we have heard with concern.”

Speaking later on the sidelines of the meeting alongside US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Johnson also said Trump’s imminent decision underlined the urgency of a new US-led Middle East peace plan.

“We’ll have to wait and see what the president says,” Johnson said.

Democratic Rep: Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital Will ‘Blow Up’ Middle East Peace Process

Democratic Rep. Denny Heck (Wash.) said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would “blow up the peace process in the Middle East.”

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked cngressman on “The Situation Room” if Trump’s expected Wednesday announcement on moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would “close the door” on Israelis and Palestinians living alongside each other.

“So presuming he goes ahead and pulls the trigger on that, I think it’s going to both literally and figuratively blow up the peace process in the Middle East,” Heck said. “We know it’s a bad idea.”

Heck said if Trump does recognize Jerusalem as the capital and moves the embassy, its an indication the United States has officially chosen a side and can “no longer act as the honest broker” or “facilitate peace in the Middle East.”

Heck said the Palestinians’ highest priority is having East Jerusalem as its capital, just as much as it’s Israel’s priority to establish Jerusalem as its capital.

Last Four Democratic Party Platforms Have Called Jerusalem the Capital of Israel

The past four official Democratic Party platforms have recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The 2016 party platform read, “While Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths. Israelis deserve security, recognition, and a normal life free from terror and incitement.”

In 2008, the platform read, “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

In 2004, the document read, “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

Liberal US Jews blast Trump’s expected Jerusalem declaration

With US President Donald Trump set to formally recognize on Wednesday that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and set in motion plans to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, US Jews shifted into an internecine debate about the wisdom of such a move.

While the liberal Jewish Middle East advocacy group J Street said it was “an unhelpful step with no tangible benefits, only serious risks,” Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, described the decision as “a courageous stand that expresses [Trump’s] commitment to repairing and strengthening ties with Israel, our most important ally in the Middle East.”

The RJC plans to run a full-page ad in The New York Times on Thursday thanking the president for fulfilling a campaign pledge.

Meanwhile, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders let it be known on Twitter that he disapproved of Trump making a policy change that has the potential to unravel his attempts to broker a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

“There’s a reason why all past US administrations have not made this move, and why leaders around the world have warned Trump against it: It would undermine the prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and severely, perhaps irreparably, damage our ability to broker it,” he said.

That response was similar to that of the Reform Jewish movement, the largest denomination of American Jews. In a statement, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, who heads the Union for Reform Judaism, said that while he believes Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state, and that it should be recognized as such, any formal declaration should only come in the form of a comprehensive accord.

“President Trump’s ill-timed, but expected, announcement affirms what the Reform Jewish Movement has long held: that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” he said. “Yet while we share the President’s belief that the U.S. Embassy should, at the right time, be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, we cannot support his decision to begin preparing that move now, absent a comprehensive plan for a peace process.”

Blumenthal: Jerusalem Is Israel’s Capital, Congress Has Long Acknowledged This

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) declared Tuesday that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel but he questioned President Donald Trump’s timing in recognizing it.

Appearing on CNN’s “Situation Room,” Blumenthal said Congress has long recognized the fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. In June, the Senate reaffirmed a 1995 law saying that, and Blumenthal voted for it.

“Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and I’ve long supported acknowledging that simple fact, and so has Congress, repeatedly—in fact, as recently as earlier this year,” Blumenthal said. “But there have to be meaningful negotiations to advance the progress of peace, and that includes secure borders for Israel and a two-state solution.”

Congress’s law recognizing Jerusalem as the capital allows the president to sign a waiver to delay moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem on account of national security, which prior presidents have done. Despite voting in favor of the law as recently as June, Blumenthal said it may endanger peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians to move the embassy rather than delaying it once again.

“The question now really is one of timing, you just alluded to it,” Blumenthal added. “Whether, in fact, the United States embassy is moved and how it’s moved, and most important: Will the United States really pursue meaningful negotiation?”

Iran Supreme Leader: US intention to move embassy sign of ‘incompetence and failure’

The US intention to move its embassy to Jerusalem is a sign of its incompetence and failure, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday, according to his official website.

US President Donald Trump is expected to announce on Wednesday that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move its embassy there, breaking with longtime US policy and potentially stirring unrest.

“That they claim they want to announce Quds as the capital of occupied Palestine is because of their incompetence and failure,” Khamenei said, using the Arabic name for Jerusalem.

Iran has long supported a number of Palestinian militant groups in their fight against Israel.

“On the issue of Palestine (US) hands are tied and they cannot advance their goals,” Khamenei said.

He said Palestine would be “freed” and Palestinian people will be victorious.

The calm before the storm? East Jerusalem prepares for Trump’s announcement

Ahead of US President Donald Trump’s expected declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, no special incidents or protests were reported in the city on Wednesday.

Unclear whether it was due to the rain or indifference, Arab residents of east Jerusalem decided to go on with their day-to-day lives, despite calls for a day of rage in protest of the expected move.

Ahmad, a shop owner located next to the Damascus Gate — the central hub of Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Old City — told The Jerusalem Post that from his perspective, such an announcement carries major weight but it would change nothing on the ground, and from his point of view, nothing could get worse.

“Look, the Americans have been lying to us, the Palestinians for over 50 years,” Ahmad said, “so what could we expect from him? All their presidents deceived us, all spat in our faces, what else can we do?”

Ahmad added that Trump’s expected announcement essentially erases the Palestinians from the map.

“Why won’t he just say tell us what he really thinks – that we should all get out of here and that’s it,” he said.

Israeli Military Identifies Surge of Palestinian Social Media Incitement Ahead of Trump’s Jerusalem Speech

The IDF has identified a surge of incitement on Palestinian social media networks over the past 24 hours, ahead of US President Donald Trump’s expected declaration of recognition on Wednesday of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Hebrew news site Walla reported.

Social media has played a key role in fueling a wave of “lone-wolf” Palestinian terrorist attacks that has ebbed and flowed over the past two years.

Palestinian leaders — including PA President Mahmoud Abbas — have called for protests against Trump’s anticipated move (he will speak at 1 p.m. US Eastern time), and the IDF is preparing for potential violence and unrest in the West Bank.

“We are conducting ongoing situational assessments and are ready for all scenarios,” an unnamed Israeli security official told Walla.

For Abbas, come hell or intifada, Jerusalem is the hill to die on

For Abbas, Jerusalem is like a red flag to a bull. When he was negotiating for the Palestine Liberation Organization at Camp David in 2000, he was among the leaders of the camp who stood against a deal giving up Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Any time Jerusalem moves to the top of the Middle East agenda, Abbas speaks up, and loudly.

Last July, amid the crisis over metal detectors at the Temple Mount, he made the unprecedented move of freezing security coordination with Israel, and now he is practically ordering his men to escalate violence. His Fatah faction published on Tuesday an official announcement calling for “days of rage” on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and for mass protests.

It is likely that a green light will be given to the Tanzim militia to send people out into the streets and to his security forces to look the other way.

Abbas, at least for now, looks determined not to cede to Hamas or anyone else his leading role in the battle for Jerusalem, no matter the price. He may not care too much if the Palestinian public blames him for the collapse of the Fatah reconciliation process with Hamas, but he will not allow himself to be accused of surrendering and relinquishing Jerusalem.

Palestinians cancel Christmas party in Washington

The Palestine Liberation Organization’s delegation to Washington has canceled its Christmas party planned for Wednesday night last minute, citing United States President Donald Trump’s upcoming speech on Jerusalem.

Trump will announce Wednesday that the US formally recognizes the ancient city as Israel’s capital. The move has drawn ire from Palestinian officials, who claim it will dramatically set back the president’s effort to forge a comprehensive settlement to the conflict.

The Palestinian reception, which was to be held in the House of Representatives, was themed “a Bethlehem Christmas,” and was expected to draw US lawmakers as well as senior Trump administration officials.

“This was a difficult decision given your cherished enthusiasm and confirmation to attend the event together with hundreds of US congressional members, government officials, esteemed policy makers, respected religious leaders, members of the diplomatic corps, international dignitaries and our valued community and civil society leaders,” the delegation said in a statement.

“Out of care for our leaders and children, it might be unsuitable for them to speak and sing shortly after the possibility of an announcement that runs counter to the message of peace.”

Palestinian envoy says US recognition of Jerusalem is ‘declaring war’

US President Donald Trump would effectively be making a declaration of war if he recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Palestinians’ chief representative to Britain said on Wednesday.

“If he says what he is intending to say about Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, it means a kiss of death to the two state solution,” Manuel Hassassian said in a BBC radio interview.

“He is declaring war in the Middle East, he is declaring war against 1.5 billion Muslims (and) hundreds of millions of Christians that are not going to accept the holy shrines to be totally under the hegemony of Israel,” Hassassian added.

Gazans burn US, Israeli flags ahead of Trump recognition of Jerusalem

Hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip rallied Wednesday against US President Donald Trump’s imminent announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his plan to move the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

The demonstration on the streets of Gaza City was organized by several Palestinian factions and terror groups that called for Palestinian unity in response to Trump’s expected announcement, which would upend decades of US policy regarding the city.

The protesters burned American and Israeli flags.

They also waved Palestinian flags and banners proclaiming Jerusalem as “our eternal capital” and calling it a “red line.”

The announcement will mark a major milestone for Israel’s efforts to gain international legitimacy for its claims to Jerusalem. Israel calls Jerusalem its undivided capital, but the international community has refrained from recognizing it as such pending final status negotiations with the Palestinians, who seek the eastern half of the city as their own seat of power in a future state.
A picture shows the exterior of the US embassy in Tel Aviv on December 6, 2017. (ACK GUEZ/AFP)

Hamas, which controls Gaza and which the United States and the European Union consider a terrorist organization, also called for more protests over the coming days.

Ahead of Trump announcement, Muslim leaders warn of backlash

Ayman Safadi, the foreign minister of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, has been actively campaigning on Twitter against US President Donald Trump’s plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. His is one of many voices throughout the region, among countries the Jewish state has relations with and those it doesn’t, among its enemies and luke-warm friends, warning of the consequences of such a move.

On December 3, Safadi tweeted that he had spoken with his counterpart in the United States, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “on dangerous consequences of recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Such a decision would trigger anger across Arab, Muslim worlds, fuel tension and jeopardize peace efforts.”

Safadi had reached out to the Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which represents 57 Muslim countries, for support against the US move, he said. He went further on December 4, tweeting that he had spoken with foreign ministers from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Iraq, Oman and Tunisia.

Jordan appears to see the recognition as a serious crisis. This is compounded by Israel’s lack of an ambassador in Jordan since July, after an Israeli security guard shot two Jordanians.

Egypt, the other Arab country in the region at peace with Israel, has also opposed Trump’s declaration. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry spoke with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on December 5 about the potential embassy move.

“The two expressed their hope that the US administration reconsiders its plan before making a final decision, due to its potentially dangerous impact on the region and the peace negotiations,” Egypt Today reported. Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also spoke with Trump and said the decision would “complicate” issues in the Middle East. The relatively ambiguous statement from Cairo notes that Sisi “affirmed the Egyptian position on preserving the legal status of Jerusalem within the framework of international references and relevant UN resolutions.”

Arab MKs accuse ‘pyromaniac’ Trump of ‘diplomatic terror’ with Jerusalem moves

rab Israeli lawmakers on Tuesday dubbed US President Donald Trump a “pyromaniac” and accused him of “diplomatic terrorism” after the Palestinian Authority and Jordan said their leaders were informed by the American president of his “intention” to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Trump’s phone calls with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Tuesday came amid speculation Trump could announce plans to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv or recognize Israel’s capital on Wednesday.

US officials have said he will hold off on moving the embassy right away, but may issue a statement reiterating his intent and even go as far as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

But the US president critically did not provide a timeframe when speaking to the Arab leaders in a flurry of phone calls on Tuesday. Trump was also set to call Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the White House.

The head of the Knesset’s Joint (Arab) List MK Ayman Odeh called Trump a “pyromaniac” and warned that going through with the move risked inflaming the region.

Israeli Tells CBS News ‘I Love Trump’ in Anticipation of Jerusalem Announcement

An Israeli citizen interviewed by “CBS Evening News” on Tuesday said that he and others in a Jerusalem marketplace where he was standing “love” President Donald Trump.

Trump is expected to announce Wednesday that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and will begin plans to move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv, sparking criticism from the Palestinians and other Middle Eastern leaders.

The decision, however, is popular in Israel.

“Despite the dire warnings across much of the Middle East, here at a Jerusalem market, President Trump is still getting high marks,” CBS reporter Seth Doane said.

“I love Trump,” the unidentified Israeli said. “All the market love Trump.”

Trump made a campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

The U.S. Senate voted 90-0 in June in favor of a resolution urging the U.S. to abide by the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which calls on the U.S. to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move its embassy there.

Haaretz belittles embassy move: ‘Don’t do us any favors’

As Israel rejoices at the historic step taken by US President Trump, some media outlets maintain a contemptuous attitude revealing stalwart petty factionalism even as the millennia-old dream of the Jewish People moves closer to international realization.

On the day of the US administration’s announcement of recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the daily Haaretz newspaper devoted two front-page columns to belittling the development, prompting other journalists, not noted for their love of US President Donald Trump, to distance themselves from the sentiments expressed.

“Don’t do us any favors” read one op-ed, calling details of the move “murky” and warning that it could “scuttle any chances of a peace process [sic] in the near future.” The second op-ed was entitled “Just an empty gesture.”

Journalists working for Israeli papers unaligned with Donald Trump’s agenda distanced themselves from the paper’s attitude. Gil Hoffman, chief political correspondent and analyst for the Jerusalem Post, tweeted, “On this historic day for Israel, @haaretzcom headlines are ‘Don’t do us any favors’ & ‘Just an empty gesture.’ So proud to work for @Jerusalem_Post.”

Chris Matthews: ‘Crazy’ Evangelicals Don’t Understand Situation in Israel

MSNBC political commentator Chris Matthews appeared on “Morning Joe” Wednesday and said Evangelical Christians don’t understand the politics of Israel because they have “mythical” beliefs about it.

Matthews connected President Donald Trump’s expected decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital to Roy Moore’s Senate campaign in Alabama. He said support for Israel among Evangelicals comes from their “crazy ideas about Israel.”

“Don’t think this isn’t related to Alabama next week. It is related,” Matthews said. “Because it’s the Christian Evangelicals down there with their crazy ideas about Israel which is, I don’t know, mythical.”

“They don’t understand the situation over there, how tricky it is ethnically and tribally,” he added. “They don’t care because it’s a religious belief. Trump is playing into that this week; you watch him.”

Matthews justified his superior knowledge of the situation in Israel by citing the fact he once lived in Jerusalem, and he expressed support for former President Bill Clinton’s strategy of giving concessions to the Palestinians. He said the only hope for peace is for Palestinians to have hope East Jerusalem can be their capital, and in contrast, he argued moving the embassy to Jerusalem will cause deaths.

“Deaths are coming now because of this. You can just bet the next few weeks we’ll have hell to pay for this totally erratic decision by this president,” Matthews said. “Every party that has had the White House since ’48 has recognized you have to be careful over there.”

Fareed Zakaria: Trump Not Siding ‘With Israel’ By Doing Something Most Israelis Support

Serial plagiarist and cable television host Fareed Zakaria made a doozy of a point on Anderson Cooper’s CNN show last night. During a segment on President Trump’s expected decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Zakaria told Cooper, “By the way, this is an issue in which the United States would be siding not with Israel, but with the current Israeli government.”

Where Zakaria came up with this one, we do not know. Maybe he cribbed from the wrong Wikipedia page?

Jerusalem’s status as the holiest city in Judaism goes back thousands of years. The Knesset, the democratically elected legislature of Israel, has been situated in Jerusalem since the founding of the Jewish State in 1948. Israel’s victory over three Arab armies brought the Old City under its control in 1967. United Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital for half a century. This is the reality President Trump is expected to acknowledge in his speech today. How dare he!

Israelis overwhelmingly believe Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and support the move of the United States embassy to the ancient city. Last May, a poll conducted by Israel Hayom found that 13 of 21 members of the Knesset (MKs) surveyed were for the relocation. (There are 120 MKs in all.)

Just this morning, Avi Gabbay, the new head of the storied Labor Party, told a conference: “When my parents came from Morocco to Jerusalem, I can assure you they didn’t check the State Department website to see if it’s the capital or not. They knew Jerusalem is the capital and just came.” Gabbay added that President Trump’s recognition of reality could spur negotiations for a settlement.

Wall Street Journal all but Ignores Israeli Perspective on Jerusalem

The Journal’s December 5 report focuses primarily on European and Arab responses to Trump’s decision not to meet the December 4 deadline to execute a waiver of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. In it, Jones and his colleagues Felicia Schwartz and Dion Nissenbaum again whitewash history in their brief “background” of the conflict:

Jerusalem was divided in 1948 when Israel was founded, with Israel controlling the western parts of the city and Jordan controlling the eastern parts, including the Old City and its sacred sites for Muslims, Jews and Christians. Israel seized control of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and eventually annexed the occupied parts of the city—something most of the international community refuses to recognize.

Jerusalem did not spontaneously divide in 1948. It was divided by war, after five Arab armies attacked the newly reconstituted Jewish state. The resulting 1949 armistice lines were never internationally recognized, and Jordan ethnically cleansed the Jewish population from the section of the city that it controlled. Israel was again attacked by Jordan in 1967 (after Israel’s preemptive attack on Egypt), and it was this attack that lead to the reunification of the city.

Even worse, Jones, Schwartz and Nissenbaum seem to ignore Israeli sovereignty all together, referring repeatedly to the possibility that the US may “declare” Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. For example, in the second paragraph, they write, “Arab leaders across the Middle East are making last-ditch appeals to the U.S. not to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel.”

Of course, no US President has the ability to “declare” a capital city of any other country. The only things that a US President, or any other world leader, may do, is recognize a capital city or decline to do so. Regardless of any declaration made by any world leader, Jerusalem is the seat of the Israeli government and, therefore, by definition, the country’s capital.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Trump Also Preparing To Recognize Pluto As Planet (satire)

Diplomatic and political figures around the solar system prepared for another expected round of violence after White House officials indicated that today US President Donald Trump would announce American recognition of one of the system’s outlying bodies as a full-fledged planet.

The controversial move comes on the heels of Trump’s announcement Wednesday that the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a statement that has sparked threats of violence across the Muslim world and anger from Palestinians and their supporters. In preparation for the additional wave of violence stemming from the Pluto announcement, American diplomatic facilities and personnel between the orbit of Mercury and the Oort Cloud have been instructed to minimize their interaction with local populations and to avoid certain areas with precedent for attacks.

State Department personnel and other political figures in the US have joined European and other politicians in warning against such a move, as they consider it likely to compromise moribund peace efforts between Pluto and other Kuiper Belt objects over the final status of solar system bodies. “This is an irresponsible move – the status of Pluto must be determined in negotiations,” pronounced European Parliament member Nicolas Copernicus of Poland. “Prejudicing the outcome at this stage risks undermining decades of efforts to reach an agreement.”

Advocates of Pluto’s claims to planethood voiced satisfaction tinged with caution. “We of course welcome this change in American policy,” stated Charon Styx. “For too long, nations have gone to absurd lengths to ignore the political and physical realities on the… well, the ground, so to speak. Now a major power has acknowledged what everyone has always known and experienced, but were afraid to say out loud: Pluto is and always has been a planet. It is past time for the rest of the astronomical community to accept this fact and just move on. All thinking, feeling people hope the president follows through on this.”

In Compromise, US Embassy Moves From Tel Aviv to Cyprus (satire)

In Compromise, US Embassy Moves From Tel Aviv to Cyprus

In a decision which has thus far pleased absolutely nobody, the United States has moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Cyprus in what American officials termed “the best compromise we could come up with.”

“For decades now, we’ve been telling the Israelis that we’re going to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem”, explained one official. “President Trump didn’t seem to realize that this is just the kind of thing we say but don’t really mean. Like when we tell fellow diplomats that we have complete confidence that a 36-year-old failed real estate manager is just the fellow to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“But that blond maniac just kept on going on about it and it put us in a bit of a bind really. We’re shit scared of war in the Middle East if we were to move our embassy to Jerusalem, so we thought we’d compromise by moving it out of Tel Aviv but not to Jerusalem. That way we at least half keep our promise and that’s pretty good going by this presidency’s standards.”

When asked why the location of choice was Cyprus, the official explained, “well if you can name another Israeli city we will give it a look…. No…. Didn’t think so. Let’s be honest, we could tell most Americans Cyprus is part of Israel and they’d believe us.”

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