In all negotiations, their must be trust in order to come to any agreement. Honesty is the cornerstone of all successful negotiations, people have to believe the things being talked about are done so in good faith. Anytime this is not the case, efforts to reach an agreement are doomed from the start.
Given this, it is no wonder that the many attempts to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians have been complete failures. It was an uphill battle to start with, given the hateful atmosphere Palestinians have raised their children in for generations. But, attempting to come to an agreement, where the most basic talking points are not dealt with honestly, was an exercise in futility. In this case, there have been many discussions regarding the “status” of Jerusalem, as if there was a snowball’s chance in Hades that Israel would abandoned it to the Palestinians. This is not the only example of dishonesty that has marked the Palestinian peace process, but it is the most blatant.
For fear of upsetting the peevish Palestinian leadership, Western leaders have decided negotiations should not address anything considered controversial. Instead, they have concentrated on window dressing, worrying about the equivalent of curtain colors while the house was on fire.
It is not as if the real issues were hidden, just that no one wanted to deal with the elephants in the room. Preferring to deal with small items they might be able to claim some sort of political victory on, politicians have only made matters worse. Real leadership means making hard decisions, even in the face of opposition. When it comes to the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, real leadership has been totally lacking.
One could make a basic list of prerequisites for the advancement of peace, things like: Israel and Palestinians have a right to feel secure in their persons, They are both entitled to be treated with dignity, Any agreement must include a mutual non-aggression pact etc. Of course, even these simple items are hard pills to swallow for Hamas and the PLO. Adding the status of Jerusalem to the list is not only disingenuous, it is lying. Telling people something is possible, even though it is never going to happen, isn’t doing them a favor. In this case, it has increased animosity in an already hateful situation.
It was absurd to even suggest that Israel would give up having its capital in Jerusalem. Many of its citizens would die for a place seen as the heart and soul of the nation. In contrast, Palestinian connection to the city is dubious at best. Adding to the hypocrisy, many of those nations, who have for years to refuse to openly accept this fact, have privately acknowledged as much. The diplomatic missions in Israel also reflect this dysfunctional approach.
Ever since Jerusalem was incorporated into Israel, the United States “consulate” there has functioned as a De facto embassy. All major political functions are carried out in Jerusalem, with Tel Aviv basically serving as a consulate with an extra office for the Ambassador. An absurd arrangement based on a fantasy. What Trump did was simply acknowledge reality.
Trump is right about another thing as well, that this move will allow fresh attempts at bringing peace to the region. Now that the Jerusalem question is off the table, real negotiations can begin. With the remaining items revolving around universal concepts of human dignity, respect and security, the door comes open to make potential progress. There is no longer a need to tip toe around the status of something there was never any question about.
For certain, the Palestinians will throw a fit, burn cars and may even pay more people to blow themselves up. Around the Arab world, many will voice condemnation in a effort to sooth the feelings of petulant children as they throw a temper tantrum. Still, once the hoopla is over, and reality sets in, it will be possible to move on.
This is not to say peace is likely, or even possible. Only that negotiations now have at least a plausible chance for success. Kudos to Trump for making a decision that was long overdue. He did what none of his predecessors had the guts or foresight to do.