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Jerusalem Embassy Opens, What’s Next?

Before President Trump, U.S. presidential candidates had for decades vowed they’d move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, even though moving the embassy is a requirement of a 1990s U.S. law. That law was regularly waived by Trump’s predecessors, going back to former President Bill Clinton, on the theory that such a move would impede the elusive “peace process” that never seemed to attract any Palestinian interest.

Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic senator from Connecticut and the Democrats’ nominee for vice president in 2000 had a good take on why the move was necessary. He told the Jerusalem Post that from his perspective Embassy to Jerusalemit seemed “weak for the US – because of political fears – to single out Israel, our close ally, as the one country in the world where we didn’t have our embassy in the city designated by the country as its capital.”

“The first thing is that President Trump is not only unconventional, he is also new to a lot of these long-standing diplomatic controversies, so he does not have all the baggage from the past,” Lieberman said. “I think he just gave it a fresh look and said, ‘Well, why aren’t we recognizing Jerusalem? After all, Israel is our closest ally. Why are we timid about saying what is obviously true?” Lieberman said he thought that for Trump, this is “a show of both personal and national strength: that both he and the US do what they think is right.”

Jerusalem Post writer Herb Keinon wrote it was clear that Trump was “much less affected by the institutional baggage of the State Department, which I think is sometimes good, as in this case, though I might have different feelings about it on other issues. But here it allowed him to break out of the conventional wisdom on the issue.”

When Trump declared on Dec. 6, “It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” he also said that he hoped the move could spur renewed peace negotiations. However, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas responded by breaking off all contact with the Trump administration.

“In the long run, we’re convinced that this decision creates an opportunity and a platform to proceed with a peace process on the basis of realities rather than fantasies, and we’re fairly optimistic that this decision will ultimately create greater stability rather than less,” said David Friedman, US Ambassador to Israel. “We remain optimistic that we will make significant progress.”

However, analysts in Israel and the Middle East are not so sanguine for the near-term prospects for peace.

Ron Ben-Yishai writing for Israeli Ynetnews.com says the main concern is that thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of Palestinians will run towards the border fence as part of the “March of Return” on Nakba Day and on the following days. Hamas is going to great lengths to get more and more people to take part in the march, knowing that a large number of people storming the fence is likely to lead to a high death toll and harm Israel both internally and internationally.

In the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip, our friends at NewsMax report tens of thousands of Palestinians are preparing to march to the border fence separating them from Israel and concluding six weeks of confrontations with Israeli forces. At least 50 Palestinians were killed in the first seven weeks of rioting and attacks, and hundreds were injured claim Gaza health officials.

Deborah Danan of Breitbart reports Muslim terror group Hamas has called for “a million martyrs” to sacrifice their lives to reclaim the land of Israel for Muslims.

“We will place a million martyrs on this land until, God willing, we liberate it,” Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas, vowed over the weekend. “We don’t care about [President] Donald Trump’s moves or the indifference of the Arab world.”

Hamas’s Gaza chief Yihya Sinwar also said last week that he expected hundreds of thousands of Gazans to breach the fence. Sinwar vowed that he and other senior Hamas officials were “ready to die” to end Israel’s hold over Gaza.

British Arabist T.E. Lawrence described how to earn the respect of the Arab tribesmen he helped rally to defeat the Ottoman Turks during World War I this way: The Arab respected force a little: he respected craft more, and often had it in enviable degree: but most of all he respected blunt sincerity of utterance…

It doesn’t get much blunter than moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the only question now is whether the Palestinians want to talk or actually “place a million martyrs” on the land of Israel.

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