U.S. Embassy Move Could Have a Positive Impact in the Long Run

COMMENTARY Middle East

U.S. Embassy Move Could Have a Positive Impact in the Long Run

May 17th, 2018 1 min read
COMMENTARY BY
James Phillips

Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation

James Phillips is a senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at The Heritage Foundation.
Trump has recognized a reality, that Jerusalem is the capital, without taking a position on the city’s final status that would be incompatible with a negotiated settlement. silverjohn/Getty Images

The Trump peace plan is unlikely to succeed — not because of the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, but because Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist extremist movement that rejects peace with Israel, are locked in on a collision course leading to another war.

In short, this is not a post-war environment in which peace is possible.

As long as Hamas retains its stranglehold on Gaza and remains committed to terrorism, peace is beyond reach. Hamas not only opposes peace talks with Israel, it also opposes Israel’s very existence. It is dedicated to destroying Israel, as its covenant makes clear.

Even if Israel and the Palestinian National Authority signed a perfect peace treaty tomorrow, Hamas could explode it with another round of rockets launched from Gaza targeting Israeli civilians, using increasingly sophisticated missiles provided by Iran.

The location of the U.S. Embassy in Israel is a useful pretext for mobilizing Palestinians but not a determining factor in Hamas’ calculations. Hamas staged the riots along the Gaza border as part of its propaganda offensive against Israel related to its “March of Return,” the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel — not because of the U.S. Embassy.

President Trump has recognized a reality — that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital — without taking a position on the city’s final status that would be incompatible with a negotiated settlement. U.S. officials have clearly stated that the move of the embassy does not negate Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem or rule out the creation of a Palestinian state.

President Trump’s embassy move may complicate peace negotiations in the short run, but it could have a positive impact in the long run if it shocks Palestinian and other Arab leaders into recognizing that the longer they wait to genuinely accept Israel’s existence and sign a peace treaty, the less they can expect to gain from such a treaty.

This piece originally appeared in USA Today