Jerusalem Decision Could Halt White House Plan For Peace Process

HOST INTRO:  Last week marked 100 days since President Trump’s decision to move the Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  The embassy will open on May 14th to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding. The move is greeted with enthusiasm by the Israeli government, hostility from Palestinians.  And caused a rift among Jewish activists here in New York. Augusta Anthony reports from Jerusalem. She begins at the most recent scene of Palestinian anger. 

ROSENFELD 1

We have confirmed that there was a terrorist attack this afternoon in Jerusalem in the old city // The attacker was shot and killed at the scene.  

ANTHONY 1:  That’s Micky Rosenfeld, spokesperson for the Israeli police, confirming a Palestinian attack on an Israeli officer last Sunday.  It’s one of several that has taken place in recent weeks to express Palestinian dismay at the embassy move. Why are they angry? Because both sides claim Jerusalem as their capital and for decades its status has been part of a larger peace process.  Now President Trump says he’s taking the issue off the table and that hasn’t been sitting well with the Palestinian side. Middle East expert Nizar Farsakh explains. 

FARSAKH 1

This is this is the greatest, most explicit manifestation of the U.S. bias towards Israel. It completely undermines the peace camp in Palestine but also puts the United States in hostility with the Palestinians.

ANTHONY 2:  Farsakh says the hostile demonstrations in the old city are isolated – not likely to cause a united uprising.  And he may be right. Palestinians have been under Israeli occupation since the 1967 war and many are resigned to the state of things. But, Trump’s decision has changed the status quo.  And in the old city, just streets away from Sunday’s attack, Palestinian shopkeeper, 24 year old Badwe Omar, has an appetite for change. 

OMAR 2

I want a big change to have a fair government for everyone.  Everyone we can live in peace.

ANTHONY 1

So you think that the US should recognize the capital of Israel is Jerusalem?

OMAR 3

No I don’t think so.  My opinion, I think it should be for Palestine or international city for everyone. 

ANTHONY 4:  Jerusalem as an international city is often suggested in the framework of a two state solution.  But those in the pro-Israel camp want it as a Jewish city. However not all American Jews are sure.  At the Western Wall I met student Ian Rodgers who is visiting on Birthright, a program allowing Jews to visit their spiritual homeland.  

RODGERS 1

I think the consequences weren’t really weighed properly and I think it’s going to add a lot of complication to the peace process between the Arabs and the Israelis. 

ANTHONY 5:  His views are shared with progressive Jews back here in New York.  Elana Kravitz is the education and programming chair of J Street U at Columbia University.  It’s a liberal Jewish advocacy group and opposed to the decision.

KRAVITZ 1

The context in which it was done and also the lack of recognition of Palestinian ties to East Jerusalem are the problematic parts of this decision. 

ANTHONY 6:  Kravitz says the move undermines hopes of a fair deal for both sides.

KRAVITZ 2

I feel like the Jerusalem decision and the backlash towards it, is from a feeling of wanting better things for Israel, but I think a lot of it is also wanting a better future for Palestinians.

 ANTHONY 7:  While liberal Jews advocate for a more measured approach, conservative Jews are broadly supportive of the move.  Sharon Beck runs Zionists for Trump and is relieved a President has finally taken action. She says Trump is protecting the Jewish state of Israel.  That he’s recognising their claims to their holiest sites. And, for her, its importance can’t be underestimated.

BECK 1

In a world where there is no anti-semitism, it would be important, but because there is anti-Semitism, it’s essential.

ANTHONY 8:  Although a welcome move to some Jewish activists here in the US, Palestinians say the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem in May puts the breaks on President Trump’s long awaited peace plan.  The Jerusalem decision could have far reaching consequences if the Arab world refuses to come to the table. Augusta Anthony, Columbia Radio News.

 

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