The Jakarta Post
Many world leaders, including President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, have angrily condemned United States President Donald Trump for officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. For the American president, his decision is a matter of legal technicality, political practicality and an opportunity to show off his leadership muscle.
Protests and condemnation have spread globally, with critics crying foul over the policy that defies international conventions. But the unpredictable American leader does not care about repercussions resulting from his act, like the rise of anti-American sentiment across the world and more acts of terrorism. Trump might still believe in the US might and know well that the enemies of Israel are preoccupied with infighting and quarrels.
Trump insisted he simply implemented the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which requires the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv no later than May 1999. Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has declared the holy city for three religions its capital, although the United Nations has never recognized it.
For Trump, his recognition of Jerusalem is merely part of the realization of his campaign promises, which also include scrapping the Paris Climate Accord, banning the entry of citizens of certain countries, reducing taxes for the super-rich, expelling undocumented migrants and erecting high walls along the Mexican border.
Although Trump said his decision “marks the beginning of a new approach” to the endless conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, we believe his much-anticipated announcement on Wednesday has only kick-started a catastrophe.
Palestine is determined that Jerusalem should become its capital when one day it can achieve its long-standing goal of becoming a fully independent state. Palestinians put little hope in Washington playing the role of an honest peace broker, and Trump’s decision has by all means killed any such expectation.
The status of Jerusalem is among the contentious issues of the decades-long peace talks, which have tabled a two-state solution, apart from the right to return and the issue of illegal Jewish settlements that nevertheless have expanded under the watch of the hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Further, tension will mount with Muslims wary of what will happen with the Old City and the Al Aqsa Mosque if Israel moves to formally make all of Jerusalem its capital. The mosque in East Jerusalem, at the center of battlegrounds since the Crusades, has deep symbolic meaning to Muslims, who pray there every day.
But as we will see increased fury against the US, it is actually the local Palestinians who will bear the brunt of Israel’s rule. Nevertheless, the Palestinians should also blame themselves for Trump’s move, because they have been unable to forge unity vis-à-vis foreign intervention.
As a Muslim-majority country, Indonesia has rightly spoken out to reject President Trump’s decision. President Jokowi has placed Palestine’s independence high on his foreign policy agenda. It is time for Jokowi to show the world that Indonesia can do more than simply joining the chorus of condemnation against Trump’s recklessness.