The real danger of sticking to the policy of Jerusalem neutrality is that it feeds a Palestinian illusion: With enough patience and rage, one day the Jews will be evicted from their eternal capital. That’s not going to happen.
A year ago, when Donald Trump’s transition team first said they intended to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, I was skeptical. Like most of the foreign policy establishment, not to mention America’s Arab and European allies, I thought such a move was too risky.
You will see that argument a lot today. Israel needs U.S. help in strengthening its blossoming relationships with Arab states that were once its foes. Why risk straining those ties with a largely symbolic move?
I have since changed my mind. There are a few reasons. To start, that column came out right before the outgoing administration broke precedent and abstained from a U.N. Security Council Resolution that said all of east Jerusalem was effectively occupied territory. This would mean any Israeli construction within the disputed territory was a violation of international law. Barack Obama’s parting gift to the Palestinians made U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital more urgent.
“From the standpoint of producing Middle East peace, President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in a speech Wednesday can only be called irrational. It raises the risk of Palestinian violence that could derail peace,” writes Noah Feldman.
But what really changed my mind was this summer’s metal detector uprising. Here’s what happened: Israeli Arabs began a rampage near the mosque that sits atop the Temple Mount, an area that contains the remains of the outer wall of the Second Jewish Temple at its base and Al Aqsa Mosque on top. The gunmen then fled into the esplanade around the mosque and began firing back at Israeli police officers from within the holy compound.