(May 14, 2018 / JNS)
The opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is the fulfillment of what many Jews dreamed of, regardless of their political opinions, and carries historic and diplomatic weight that could affect the entire region.
For 70 years, we have heard many countries, including our greatest friend, make excuses about it “not being the right time” to move their embassies to Jerusalem, and we’ve heard over and over why such a move couldn’t happen so long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continued.
In 1995, the U.S. Congress enacted a law requiring the United States to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem. But every president since then has taken care to use a loophole in the law to delay the move once every six months.
Then Donald Trump arrived—a new president, an outsider who wanted to think outside the box. Trump is an unusual politician who reminds us that politicians really can keep their promises.
When he said during his presidential campaign that if elected, he would move the embassy to Jerusalem, he meant it.
Six months ago, when the president declared his intention, the predictors of doom and gloom rose up. The Palestinians declared three days of rage over the decision, and some warned that the move would send the Middle East up in flames. Because every kindergartener knows that prior to Trump’s decision, the Middle East was a calm, peaceful place, and the Palestinians were spending the rest of the year meditating and doing yoga.
The American step lets the Palestinians know that time is not necessarily on their side, and their ongoing refusal to hold real negotiations with Israel could hurt them. It is no coincidence that Arab states are remaining silent. It shows that a broader regional move is likely in the next few months. At the same time, other countries will follow America’s lead and start to move their embassies to Jerusalem.
The reality of the matter is that the Palestinians are being left behind. If they won’t come to the negotiating table, then they could find themselves without any allies at all.
The opening of the embassy today gives us all hope—hope that the historical truth will win out over fake history, hope that vision and faith will defeat a desire to stand still, and hope that those who say “yes” will be victorious over the naysayers.
Ron Prosor is head of the Abba Eban Chair of International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya and Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations.