TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the subsequent transfer of his country’s embassy there constitutes “shock therapy” for Palestinian rejectionism, which is the real obstacle to peace, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said at a Senate event on Tuesday.
According to Dermer, the Palestinians are to blame for the lack of peace because they refuse to recognize the right of the Jews to have their own country in Israel within any boundaries whatsoever.
“That is why the Palestinians try to deny any historical connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem,” Dermer told the gathering of around 100 legislators, congressional staffers and experts on the conflict. “Because to admit this connection is to admit that the Jewish people aren’t foreign colonialists in the Land of Israel; that Israel for the Jewish people is not India for the British, or Algeria for the French or the Congo for the Belgians – but that this is the land of our ancestors.”
Once Palestinians recognize Jewish ties to Jerusalem, he said, the whole house of cards of Palestinian rejectionism would collapse, because it would mean that the Jewish people are in Israel “not merely by might, but by right.”
“Dealing with this Palestinian rejectionism is critical if you are going to advance peace, and the rejectionism is strongest, and of course most absurd, when it comes to Jerusalem,” he said.
Dermer slammed the accusation often thrown about by the Palestinian leadership that Israel is trying to “Judaize Jerusalem.” The Israeli envoy compared it to charging the Chinese with “Sino-fying” Beijing or the Russians are “Russo-fying” Moscow.
But, he continued, while he understood their reasons for denying any Jewish ties to the holy city, he could not fathom why the world tolerated it let alone applauded it as demonstrated by the UN Security Council Resolution 2334 in December 2016, a resolution president Barack Obama chose not to veto that essentially termed the Western Wall and the Old City of Jerusalem as occupied Palestinian territory.
“To advance peace, you must confront this Palestinian rejectionism,” he said, “and that is precisely what President Trump did when he recognized Jerusalem as our capital. It is shock therapy for Palestinian rejectionism. And it is actually, in my view, one of the first positive things that has been done to advance peace in decades.”
By acknowledging the Jewish people’s historical connection to Jerusalem, Trump had “laid an important cornerstone for peace,” Dermer said.
Former Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold, who gave a presentation at the summit called “Jerusalem: What’s at Stake?” said Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “effectively put to rest” the notion of a corpus separatum in which Jerusalem comes under international jurisdiction.
“When President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he effectively put to rest the internationalization idea,” Gold, who is head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said. “He was also correcting decades of diplomatic distortions at the United Nations. Finally, he was fulfilling the Jerusalem Embassy Act from 1995, that bipartisan initiative cosponsored by senators Tom Daschle and Bob Dole, calling for moving the embassy to Jerusalem. That was the accepted position across the American political spectrum and across our political spectrum.”
“This,” he said, “was the greatest gift the United States could give to Israel on the 70th anniversary of its birth.”