President Donald Trump’s formal recognition last week of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was a step that was “long overdue” as it will force all parties involved in peace negotiations to “adjust to reality,” former State Department official Amb. Dennis Ross said in a conference call Tuesday hosted by The Israel Project.
Ross, currently the William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, gave a history of the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which became law in 1995. A waiver was put into the law, because the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin felt that at the time, moving the American embassy to Jerusalem could hurt chances for peace by alienating Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Jordan’s King Hussein.
Although Ross disagreed with the manner that Trump recognized Jerusalem, he said it was important to do so because “peacemaking in the Middle East is never going to become a reality until everyone adjusts to reality.” Ross observed that some “significant part of Jerusalem is always going to be Israel’s capital,” so having the United States recognize it as such could force the Palestinians to end their denial of reality.
Ross observed that even the Arab Peace Initiative, which in its initial form isn’t acceptable to Israel, uses Israel’s June 4, 1967 borders as a baseline, meaning that the initiative implicitly recognizes part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Given that Trump only said that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital but left the final status of Jerusalem to negotiations, the Arab world could, in the future, accept this and “create cover for the Palestinians.”
A complete recording of the call is embedded below.
[Photo: U.S. Department of State / WikiCommons]