Trump and Jerusalem An Opportunity for Turkey

Donald Trump’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has led to a swift backlash not just among Palestinians or in Arab or Muslim majority states, but around the world. This is evidenced by the recent UN General Assembly vote condemning the move, which passed overwhelmingly. As was predicted by many analysts and world leaders, widespread protests around the world and violence targeting Israeli citizens followed. The action has strained trust between the Palestinian leadership and the United States (US), possibly past the breaking point. Palestinian leaders now doubt the idea that the US can continue to serve as an “honest broker” in the peace process. Palestinian leaders stated that they would not meet with US Vice President Mike Pence on his now-postponed trip to the Middle East. This makes a US-led peace process already on life support even harder to revive.

At the same time, there is no reason a peace process cannot resume if both sides are actually serious about achieving peace. The US embassy will certainly be placed in West Jerusalem, which is not really part of negotiations. Even if West Jerusalem were to be discussed in any talks going forward, the presence of a US embassy does not preclude any agreements the two sides might make. Thus, talks can, and should, still take place. Admittedly, it seems highly doubtful that the current leaders of either the Israelis or Palestinians are committed to a peace agreement, but the US action regarding Jerusalem might provide an unexpected chance to restart the process. Assuming both sides will at least talk to each other, a new “honest broker” appears to be needed, meaning new opportunities arise for other nations to step forward. There are not many nations that could fill this role, but one state, Turkey, can.


Matthew COHEN
Expert on security issues

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