Originally Published in the Washington Observer on December 9th, 2017
For decades the Israel-Palestine question has a been a divisive issue that sometimes seems impossible to solve. Many U.S. presidents have attempted to broker peace agreements between the two sides with limited progress. Progress on the issue has been at a standstill for many years and with President Trump’s announcement to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, there is little hope that any real progress can be made anytime soon. The president said, “This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement,” yet is it difficult to see how this does anything to advance the peace process.
Jerusalem has been a contentious issue as both sides lay claim to the city. The move is seen by many as a provocative move that clearly gives preference to the Israeli side. Previously, Trump assigned senior adviser Jared Kushner lead role in attempting to mediate a peace agreement even though he has financially supported illegal settlements in the West Bank. Combining these two factors it likely that Israelis will be emboldened to build even more illegal settlements on Palestinian land which will almost certainly be a roadblock to any peace agreement.
The better path would have been to continue with the status quo, leaving the embassy in Tel Aviv. The move to Jerusalem does nothing for the peace process but sabotage it. An agreement needs to be sought with wisdom and justice, not a one-sided approach that panders to one’s supporters. His Holiness, the Khalifa of Islam, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community recently stated, “Being cautious does not mean to do nothing. It means that governments should be careful because the world is extremely volatile, so they should not make any policy that can inflame the situation. The key is to act with justice and fairness.” If President Trump acts in justice and fairness, only then can there be a chance at lasting peace. If the President wants the United States to play an effective role in creating a peace agreement, then he must be seen as fair to both sides with at least some measure of impartiality. Otherwise there will be no trust and he will kill the process before it even begins. This move is a step in the wrong direction.
It is our hope that this action does not lead to violence or encourage any type of extremism. We call on everyone involved to exercise patience and restraint. We pray for the victims of any injustice and for justice and a lasting peace.