The Jerusalem Embassy Act
In January 2017, the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act proposed that the U.S. recognize Jerusalem as the “undivided” capital of Israel, while also relocating the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Introduced by Senators Ted Cruz, Dean Heller and Marco Rubio, the Jerusalem Embassy Act references the congressional passage of a 1995 order relocating Jerusalem. Ever since then, presidents have stopped further developments by enacting incremental waivers to halt developments due to potential threats to national security that could arise as a result.

This legislative proposal also finds conflict with historical peace precedents such as agreements in the Oslo Accord of 1993, which laid out new agreements for cooperation and compromise. A turning point in Palestinian-Israeli relations, the accord set the framework for future reallocations of land between the two actors in the region.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which is the overarching manifestation of the Palestinian nationalist movement, has stated that it will denounce recognition of Israel should the embassy transfer to Jerusalem come to pass. Structures of peace and security amidst the two-state conflict are fragile and political actors cite that “explosions of violence” may rise as a consequence.

According to statements from Trump administration officials like Kellyanne Conway, the relocation of Israel’s embassy to Jerusalem will be a “very big priority.” Other presidents, such as Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, have also vowed to move the embassy, but have gone back on their decision due to the state of transnational relations in the Middle East.

In addition, the legislation would also amend the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 to eliminate presidential authority to waive funding restrictions. The bill would also constrict the availability of federal funding allocated to the State Department for the fiscal year 2017 regarding “embassy security, construction, and maintenance” in the case of an emergency.

Amber Bailey

Photo: Flickr

Although the Oslo Accord was designed to facilitate the peace negotiations in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine under the supervision of the UN, some are starting to believe that the whole process will ultimately result in failure due to two decades of no deals being reached.

In an Al Jazeera article, Mairav Zonszein said that despite U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s goal to help both sides reach an agreement, Israel appears to be controlling the region anyway.

“Prospects for negotiating a two-state solution to conclude the Oslo peace process, launched in 1993, appear more remote than they were 21 years ago,” said Zonszein. “The difference, perhaps, may be in the balance of pressure operating on both sides then compared with now.”

According to Zonszein, Israel considers itself a sovereign nation and dominates the lives of all Palestinians who live under its occupation. In fact, Israel is so powerful that even Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Palestine, is required to seek permission to leave the West Bank.

While the Palestinians (and the international community, including the U.S.) demand that the boundaries drafted in 1967 should be considered by Israel to grant statehood to Palestine, Israel continues to expand settlements beyond those boundaries.

“The original premise of the Oslo Accord was that a decades-old conflict could be resolved through bilateral negotiations in a framework based on relevant UN resolutions, out of the understanding that is must be a win-win situation for both sides,” Zonszein argued.

However, the only winner in the region turned out to be Israel. After realizing that the talks between Israel and Palestine are going nowhere, Kerry proposed a new idea to resolve yet another of the many problems the two sides have with each other.

“In a last-ditch effort to stop Israel reneging on a promise to release a final batch of Palestinian prisoners, the U.S. briefly threw in possibly the biggest bargaining chip in its hand: the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard,” said Jonathan Cook in a Counterpunch article.

Cook argues that both Israel and the U.S. have been involved in negotiations that did nothing but distract the true developments within the region.

Cook also references Richard Falk, professor emeritus in international law at Princeton University, who claims that the Israeli policies were created to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from their own homeland.

This is the reason the Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as an official Jewish state in the first place.

Thus, “if negotiations collapse, it should be clear that, while both sides were supposed to be talking, one side – Israel – was vigorously and unilaterally acting to further its goals,” Cook said.

At this point, only time will tell whether or not the Israelis and Palestinians will one day reach a deal that has already been delayed by two decades.

– Juan Campos

Sources: Al Jazeera, CounterPunch
Photo: Al Jazeera