Finley: U.S. embassy belongs in Jerusalem
Maybe President Donald Trump was reckless in declaring the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.
Perhaps critics are right that it was a rash move with frightful consequences, including sending the Palestinians raging into yet another intifada and straining U.S. alliances in the Arab world.
Even so, it was the right thing to do.
Israel is a legitimate country that should have the same right as every other nation to decide its capital city. In acknowledging that right, Trump should put to rest any illusions the Palestinians harbor that Israel will eventually be forced to relinquish Jerusalem.
That will never happen as long as there’s an Israel. Bringing the Palestinians and their backers to that understanding is an essential step toward restarting a peace process that is rooted in reality.
Former President Barack Obama was never able to move ahead negotiations because he indulged Palestinian fantasies. His wobbly support of Israel and his clueless suggestion of a re-establishment of 1967 boundaries gave the Palestinians the notion the bond between Israel and the U.S. was fraying. That emboldened them to make demands the Israelis couldn’t accept.
But there are certain things that will never be part of a peace deal. Israel will not grant the Palestinians the right to return to their former homes inside the country; it will not abandon all of the West Bank settlements; and it will never surrender Jerusalem.
Other presidents have given lip service to moving the embassy to Jerusalem, but have always deferred to the cause of security. The fear of a Palestinian eruption was too great to take the risk.
But the United States should not be held hostage by the Palestinian’s threat of bad behavior. Nor should the Palestinian Authority get away again with employing terrorism as a negotiating tactic.
The PA should have been declared a state sponsor of terror long ago, given that it financially rewards the families of those who murder Jews and honors them as martyrs in the public square.
The Palestinians may answer an embassy move with a violent uprising. If they do, they should pay a price, rather than be rewarded with concessions aimed at ending their temper tantrum.
The PA received $357 million in aid from the United States in 2016, and another $355 million from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, which is largely funded by the U.S.
Every dime of it should be cut off if the Palestinians ignite another intifada. U.S. dollars should not be used to kill Israelis.
America’s national interest rests in maintaining strong economic and political ties to Israel, a loyal ally with which it has strong cultural, religious and business connections. We shouldn’t treat it as a second-class citizen.
Building a grand, new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, as Trump promises, is a powerful confirmation of Israel’s legitimacy. And it is an equally strong message to the Palestinians that America has run out of patience in waiting for them to choose peace over violence.
Jerusalem belongs to Israel, and is its capital. Trump was right in recognizing reality. The Palestinians should accept it, too.
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