“Thank you, President Trump,” Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed, “for having the courage to keep your promises!” Netanyahu declared the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem as a “great day for Israel, a great day for America,” but also “a great day for peace.”
Trump pre-empted the praise with his own prerecorded speech for the ceremony, declaring that “it’s been a long time coming,” and “that for many years, we failed to acknowledge the obvious”:
“This city and this entire nation is a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people,” he said. “The United States will always be a great friend of Israel.”
The president went on to express his hope for peace in the region in the video message.
“We extend a hand in friendship to Israel, to Palestinians and to all of their neighbors. May there be peace. May God bless this embassy. May God bless all who serve there, and may God bless the United States of America,” Trump said.
Netanyahu followed Trump’s presentation with a longer address, in which he also personally thanked Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Continuing on a personal reflection, Netanyahu recalled his boyhood days in this same neighborhood, long before it got built up into its modern form. He told the crowd that his mother warned him not to wander too far into the neighborhood as it sat near the green line, and its streets were exposed to sniper fire. “What a difference!” Netanyahu proclaimed:
“We are here in Jersualem,” Netanyahu declared, “and we are here to stay!” That’s been obvious for decades, even as outside militaries and terror groups have tried to push Israel off its land and out of its capital. After the 1967 war, in which Jordan and Syria both lost territory (West Bank and Golan Heights, respectively) after attempting to relieve Egypt by opening new fronts in the east, it’s been clear that Israel (a) saw that territory as a necessary buffer after three separate attempts by Arab nations to invade through them, and (b) would never go back to agreeing that Jerusalem was an “open city.” Pretending otherwise made everyone look foolish and perpetuated false hopes in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
As Jeff B noted earlier today, the most virtuous aspect of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is the discarding of 50 years of ignoring reality:
I grudgingly hand it to Trump – never in 100yrs did I think the U.S. Israeli embassy would actually be moved to Jerusalem per his campaign promise but by gum he went and did it and demonstrated how pointless the longstanding refusal to acknowledge reality on the ground there was.
— Jeff B. (@EsotericCD) May 14, 2018
As Trump himself said, we refused to acknowledge the obvious for more than fifty years. It’s possible that this will exacerbate tensions and make peace more difficult to achieve, but … what has the fifty years of fantasy diplomacy achieved? We still have Mahmoud Abbas spouting nonsensical genealogical arguments to paint the entire state of Israel as illegitimate and no movement at all on numerous peace proposals offered by previous administrations that played along with Abbas’ nuttiness.
We’ve tried pretending for fifty years. Maybe a hard dose of reality is worth trying at this point. It certainly couldn’t do any worse.
Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. By finally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has chosen fact over fiction. And fact is the only true foundation for a just and lasting peace. https://t.co/u4wNzgrYP4
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) May 14, 2018
And count Chuck Schumer as one of the people cheering Trump in this instance:
Schumer: In a long overdue move, we have moved our embassy to Jerusalem. Every nation should have the right to choose its capital. I sponsored legislation to do this two decades ago, and I applaud President Trump for doing it.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) May 14, 2018
Well, it has been a long time coming. We should have done this after Yasser Arafat’s launch of the intifadas. Better late than never, though.