Safely re-elected last November, President Obama waited barely a month (December 4, 2012) before suspending once again the provisions of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. That law required the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the permanent and undivided capital of Israel and to move the American Embassy there. In suspending the provisions of the act, President Obama was violating his own campaign commitments to Americans and to Israelis. As a candidate in 2008, he had said he was committed to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s permanent capital and keeping it united under Israeli rule.
Secretary of State John Kerry is now heading back to the Mideast in yet another effort to get direct talks going with Israel’s Arab peace partners. The only problem this time is the problem from last time. And all the times before that. There’s no peace. And there are no partners.
When the former PLO balked at peace with the Israelis in 2000, they initiated yet another intifada, an uprising of stone-throwing Arab youth. These are lethal outbreaks. The Israeli government of that day offered the former PLO more than 90% of Judea and Samaria, those historic homelands of the Jewish people, if the Arabs would simply agree to stop making war, stop seeking the annihilation of Israel, and stop funding terrorists.
They would not. Very shortly thereafter, Hamas, the openly terrorist branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, won the elections in Gaza and conducted a bloody civil war. Hamas won against the former PLO forces of the late Yassir Arafat, now headed by Arafat’s loyal deputy, Mahmoud Abbas.
The peace deal brokered by the Clinton administration in 2000, which was violently rejected by the former PLO and its Arab backers, has resulted in a greatly worsened situation for Israel.
Now is the time for American firmness and resolve. Now is the time for a dramatic shift in U.S. policy in the Mideast. Now is when the Obama administration should take its own advice. Liberals in the U.S.—a safe distance from Hezbollah rockets and bus bombings on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street—are forever urging Israel “to take a risk for peace.”
The Obama administration should recognize Jerusalem as the permanent, indivisible capital of Israel and move our U.S. Embassy there immediately. This is a calculated risk for peace. The Arab world needs to know that Americans will keep their word. Several U.S. administrations have pledged to move the embassy and several have backed down when push came to shove.
For eighteen years, 1948-1967, Jerusalem was split. Jordan ruled East Jerusalem, where Jews were not allowed to visit their holiest places. Jewish cemeteries and synagogues were desecrated.