U.S. Policy on Jerusalem Embassy Held Hostage by Threats and Outdated Arguments

(U.S. House of Representatives) Prof. Eugene Kontorovich - Jerusalem is the only world capital whose status is denied recognition by the United States. The U.S. embassy's location outside of Jerusalem undermines U.S. foreign policy and helps isolate Israel. Moreover, delaying the embassy's move to Jerusalem rewards threats of violence and allows U.S. policy to be held hostage by terrorists and aspiring terrorists. The U.S. embassy was never established in Jerusalem because the U.S., upon Israel's creation, refused to recognize any part of the city as under Israeli sovereignty. This was originally due to the UN General Assembly's 1947 proposal, in Resolution 181, to have the greater Jerusalem area becomeĀ an internationalized city under no sovereignty. The General Assembly's proposal had no legal force and was unworkable, and was in any case completely rejected by the Arab states, who opposed a Jewish state within any borders. The borders of the proposed international city included significant parts of Bethlehem, so as to incorporate Christian holy sites. Yet the U.S. treats Bethlehem as part of the territory administered by the Palestinian Authority, instead of treating it as a unique entity. The insistence on maintaining the policy legacy of a hypothetical international city when it comes to Israel but not the Palestinians locks in a deeply anti-Israel bias in America's regional diplomacy. The central argument against moving the embassy is that it would lead to violence, and in particular to attacks against American targets. Invoking hypothetical threats as a reason for distorting U.S. foreign policy towards a key ally is deeply inconsistent with U.S. foreign policy. U.S. embassies in the Middle East routinely face concrete and specific threats. Indeed, in 1998, Islamic terrorists blew up the U.S. embassies in Dar El Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. These attacks were said to be a response to various aspects of U.S. foreign policy. But America did not respond by rethinking those policies, or by withdrawing its embassies from those cities. In April of this year, Russia announced that it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Experts would have predicted that such a unilateral recognition would provoke anger and violence from at least the Palestinians. Note what happened next: No explosions of anger in the Arab world. No end to Russia's diplomatic role in the Middle East. No terror attacks against Russian targets. The writer, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law and head of the international law department at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Nov. 8.

2017-11-10 00:00:00

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