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How can we confront the threat to transfer the US embassy to Jerusalem?

Arab and Islamic states should react strongly to any attempts to transfer the US embassy to Jerusalem

Mustafa Barghouti , Thursday 29 Dec 2016
Jerusalem
A general view shows the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on December 29, 2016 (Photo: AFP)
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If the new US administration decides to fulfill its promise to transfer the US embassy to Jerusalem it would be an accomplice with Israel in breaching international law, the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions.

More than this it would constitute a rejection of the unequivocal legal opinion of the International Court of Justice, which asserted that Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem and every settlement Israel would establish on this land would violate international law and should be removed.

The International Court of Justice decision bound Israel to recompense Palestinians for all damage resulting from its measures and for every loss that would result from removing the violations it made.  

What is more dangerous is that transferring the US embassy to Jerusalem would signify US participation in breaching a fundamental rule that organises international relations since the end of World War II and that stipulates the impermissibility of the acquisition of territory by use of force or war.

The transfer would simply mean that we live in a barbaric world ruled by the law of the jungle and the arrogance of power.

This would raise once again the repeated question around the duality of standards of American and Western policies in general whenever the issue is connected with Israel, which is permitted thereby to be above international law and enjoy full impunity concerning its continuing breaches of these laws.

If this decision is taken, then the US will have lost what remains of its credibility, which was already minimal, as a partner in the Middle East Quartet and what’s called Middle East “peace efforts.”

The USAs absolute bias towards Israel would also confirm its inability to play any positive role in mediation and sponsoring what’s called the “peace process."

During the last 23 years, Israel used this process as a cover for settlement expansionism and Judaicising the occupied Palestinian territories.

Trump’s choice of David Friedman as the new US ambassador to Israel fomented anger, since Friedman is one of the staunchest supporters of illegal settlements and previously call for transferring the US embassy to Jerusalem, the annexation of parts of the West Bank to Israel, and financially backed illegal settlements built on Ramallah's occupied lands.

Friedman's talk about transferring the US embassy to Jerusalem coincided with other statements, including “Settlement activity isn’t an obstacle to peace.”

We saw how racist Israeli ministers considered such statements a green light for a totally unrestrained state to launch settlement expansion operations in Jerusalem and other cities and to prepare new legislation that legalises 120 new settlements.

Everyone who is silent regarding this and continues to express “concern” without imposing sanctions on Israel or withdrawing privileges from it will be a participant in the operation of killing the idea of a Palestinian state and hence the so-called “the two state solution.”

It’s important that the US hear decisive and strong reactions from Arab and Islamic states against these statements and against the threat of transferring of the US embassy, in order to give a clear signal that undertaking such a decision would harm American interests.

However, the most important lesson for us Palestinians is that every form of deterioration that befell our national cause and all that Israel expresses in effrontery and arrogance, that reached the extent of thwarting the Paris Conference and turning its back on Russian efforts — all this was the direct result of the defect in the balance of power between us and Israel and its occupation.

This defect won’t be fixed by repeating what has previously failed or by continuing to bargain for futile negotiations that won’t materialise. But we should embrace a new unified national strategy based on a profound perception that we are not in the stage of reaching a solution with Israel; we are rather in a confrontation stage with the Zionist project that insists on seizing the whole of Palestine and entrenching the occupation, the Apartheid regime and racial discrimination towards the Palestinian people, and repeats in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron and other cities what it has done in Jaffa, Haifa and Acre and elsewhere.

There are basic elements for this alternate strategy we won’t get bored of repeating; from popular resistance to the boycott movement to national unity to supporting the people’s steadfastness and survival to creating integration between the Palestinian people’s three constituents.

The most important element, which only we can immediately achieve and nobody can prevent us from doing, is ending internal division and facing the world and Israel with a unified national leadership.

We thank everybody who is trying to help us. However, the matter does not need trips, travel and meetings that move from one capital to another as much as it needs real political will that is able to open the road to unity and ending division in a matter of hours.

This will be the beginning of the road to changing the balance of power in our favour in an age that respects only the powerful.

The writer is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative.

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