Russia Recognized West Jerusalem As Capital of Israel Way Ahead of Trump
Let's move on to what is, at first sight, a completely inexplicable story. The USA has recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, which caused a backlash in the Middle East. But when Moscow did the same in April, the silence was the response.
Here's the quotation from that Russian statement: «We confirm our commitment to the UN resolutions on the settlement principles, including the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. In this context, it's necessary to stress that we regard West Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.»
In fact, this topic affects everyone. As the saying goes, the shortest distance to heaven is from Jerusalem — it's just in a call at the local rate.
We're going to show you several maps, beginning not with the modern, but with the ancient ones which express the medieval vision of the world. Yes, look at his map of the ancient world. It's a shamrock, each leaf symbolizing Europe, Asia and Africa with Jerusalem in the middle. And here's another map with Jerusalem in its center, too.
These maps were made in Christian Europe, but before Jerusalem had been seen as the center of the world by Jews and then Muslims. Jerusalem is the city of the shrines of the three religions. For Jews who were the first to settle there, the main shrine is the Western Wall, the Wailing Wall. For Christians it's Via Dolorosa, the Way of the Cross, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. For Muslims it's Al-Aqsa Mosque Complex, Haram Al-Sharif.
Over the centuries, many nations tried to capture the Holy Land: the Roman Empire, the Saracens, the Crusaders, the Ottomans…
But let's move closer to our times. In the mid-20th century Palestine was a mandated territory of the British Empire. Let's take a look at more familiar maps. The UN plan of 1947-1948 presumed that 2 states were to be created on the Palestinian territory: a Jewish and an Arab, with Jerusalem being the corpus separatum, or a separate unit.
But everybody rejected it. In the end, Jordan invaded Jerusalem from the West, and Israel from the East. This map shows the divided Jerusalem. It's the former border.
At the same time, not only the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher were controlled by Jordan, but also the Wailing Wall, the Jewish shrine. Following the divided Berlin, Jerusalem looked like this too. Some photos show the courtesy between Jordan legionnaires and Israeli policemen, but it was delusive.
During the 1967 Six-Day War, the Israelis occupied the whole city and reached the Wailing Wall. In 1980, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, declared Jerusalem a single and indivisible capital of Israel.
A revision of this status requires the majority of votes in the Knesset, which is to be further confirmed at a referendum. In other words, it's impossible and unthinkable for the Israelis to revise the status of Jerusalem.
Such a formula dashes the UN decision to make East Jerusalem the Palestinian capital.
Naturally, after 1980 the embassies of the UN member states massively moved out of Jerusalem. Diplomats of Latin American Costa Rica, El Salvador, Bolivia and Paraguay were the last to leave.
And now comes Trump's statement. Unlike the Russian Foreign Ministry, he never uttered the words «East» or «West» Jerusalem. He means Jerusalem in general. So, he presumes that Jerusalem is indivisible, that is, belongs only to Israel.
Our correspondent in Washington Alexander Khristenko is reporting on what made Trump do it.
The White House traditionally celebrates the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah at the highest level, with the US President attending it. But this time they celebrated not only the Jews' military victory over the Greeks, which happened in 164 BC, but also the modern diplomatic one, over the Palestinians, which happened in 2017.
Donald Trump: «Well, I know for sure, there are many happy people in this room».
The Congress voted for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and transferring the US embassy there back in 1995 under Bill Clinton. But neither he nor his successors Bush and Obama let the law take effect, signing a moratorium every six months. That's why Trump so pointedly put his sweeping signature on the decree to begin the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem.
Gai Ziv, a professor at the American University in Washington: «Many do not understand why Trump made this decision right now. I think it was important for him to say: „Unlike my predecessors, I keep my promises“.
CNN says the decision split the Trump team. The key figures of the administration opposed it, including Secretary of State Tillerson, head of the CIA Pompeo, and the Pentagon chief Mattis. But it was the other wing who won, the President's aides: son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka, both Modern Orthodox Jews, and vice president Pence, who was beaming with happiness during the signing.
For him, it is rather a political and career issue, but a biblical one for those who vote for him and Trump.
There are 50 million Evangelical Christians in the US, they treat Israel very warmly. Due to the peculiarities of the development of the American Protestantism, the Evangelicals believe that it's through the Israeli people that the prophecy about the last days will come true, Jerusalem will be fully controlled by the Jews, and this is a prologue and prerequisite for a reunion with Christ during his second coming.
There is a terrestrial version too. Trump agreed to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital under the pressure of Sheldon Adelson, an American Jew, whose fortune is $37 billion. The owner of casinos in Las Vegas and Singapore, Adelson was the largest sponsor of the Trump election campaign, having invested $ 25 million. He reportedly asked the White House to resolve the Jerusalem issue.
Gai Ziv: „I think it was done in coordination with other Middle Eastern countries, including those Arab leaders who publicly condemned the recognition. Perhaps, they hadn't opposed it while talking to Trump in private. I don't think Trump's decision took them aback“.
Former US Secretary of Defense William Cohen shares this stance. According to him, the Arab countries, who claim to support the Palestinians, are ready to ally with Israel against Iran.
In this context, the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington was nearly closed. The State Department already sent the employees an order to pack, but softened it, demanding an active cooperation and a dialogue with the Israelis.
As a direct consequence of Trump's decision, the US has lost its status of mediator in the Palestinian-Israeli settlement. Instead of being even-handed, the White House, largely for internal political reasons, has clearly and unequivocally taken the side of one of the parties, which only exacerbates the conflict.
Alexander Khristenko, Nikolai Koskin, Elena Sokolova for Vesti — Saturday News from Washington, the USA