Reflections: The Death of the Arab-Israeli Peace Process
Last month there was much fanfare and excitement centring upon President Donald Trumpís announcement that the US embassy would be relocated to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
The Israelis rejoiced upon hearing Trumpís declaration whilst the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims around the world met the news with overwhelming despair. Contrasting reactions sum up the animosity and deep suspicions Israelis and Arabs and Muslims and Jews have between them today across the globe.
We should ask ourselves the question is the peace process dead and buried because of Trumpís historic announcement. The answer is a resounding yes simply because the Trump administration has told the Palestinians that they are irrelevant in his eyes. Palestinians in the eyes of the Trump administration are just a mere inconvenience and a small footnote in the annals of history that no one cares to read. Hard hitting words and damning indictment you may say but in all essence Trumpís momentous decision to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv confirms this view. It is true to say that most powerful country on earth relinquished its right to be Ďan honest brokerí on the day Trump announced to the world that he would be constructing a new embassy in the eternal city.
Binyamin Netanyahu Prime Minister of Israel could not believe his luck and expressed his utmost joy that the most powerful country in the world agreed to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem. It is interesting to note that Netanyahu in light of the news coming out of Washington and made a promise to give unfettered access to the holy sites in Jerusalem to the followers of the three great Abrahamic monotheistic faiths. Only time will tell whether Netanyahuís promise will be realised, or will the eternal city be only open to the Jews with Christians and Muslims being denied total access in the coming decades.
Where does Trumpís move leave the Palestinians and President Mahmud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in all of this. The answer is that the Palestinians have been left staring the abyss and Abbas day by day is looking weaker and weaker with little room to manoeuvre. Such is the despair amongst the Palestinians that the apparent heir to the Saudi throne Prince Mohammed Ibn Salman has abandoned them along with the rest of the Arab nation states and Gulf monarchies. Such is the despair of the Palestinians that Prince Mohammed Ibn Salman has handed East Jerusalem to the Israelis on a plate and asked Abbas to accept Abu Dis as the future capital of the Palestinian state in return for $10 million dollars.
It should be said that the decision to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem signals the death of the peace process as we know it. The peace process to all intents and purposes has been on a life support machine for two decades and one may ask where does this leave plans for a two-state solution and the answer is that it was all but killed off last month. The inconvenient and damming truth is that the Israelis and the Americans fear that Israel will face an existential threat in the form of fully functioning and independent Palestinian state. Any progress made in this area constitutes a major risk going forward as far as Israel is concerned. Israel seeks to advance its plans for a one state solution and seeks to absorb the Palestinians into it to mitigate the evolving security threat and countering the demographic timebomb ticking away namely that high Arab birth rates are far higher in comparison to their Jewish counterparts.
We should ask ourselves the question where are the Arab and Muslim leaders today fighting for justice in respect of the affairs that concern the entire global community?
The answer is that the Arab and Muslim world do not have any leaders of this ilk and calibre barring one man. The man I refer to is Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayep Erdogan. Erdogan is the only Muslim leader who has not abandoned the Palestinians. Erdogan is the only man who has not abandoned the Rohingya in Myanmar. Erdogan is the only man who has not abandoned the Muslims in Syria. Erdogan has done more for the Arab and Muslim world in the last 10 years than most leaders have done in 100 years.
In 1924, the Ottoman caliphate fell in humiliating circumstances but in less than 100 years Turkey has risen from its despair and anguish to become the true leader of the Arab and Muslim world. Erdogan has risen from despair, heartbreak, anguish and turmoil to become the Salahuddin of the Muslim world in the 21st century. For it is towards Turkey and Erdogan that we need to turn to for leadership and direction in an age where Islamophobia, conflict, war, starvation, genocide, mass murder, pillage and rape has afflicted and destroyed the lives of Muslims around the world. Erdogan is the only Muslim leader who has recognised East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. Erdogan is the only Muslim leader who has declared that he will open an embassy in East Jerusalem.
In 2018, we hope that the Arab and Muslim world unites and agrees to support the creation of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. We hope that in 2018 and beyond that Jerusalem remains forever open to Christians, Muslims and Jews as it is in every sense of the word Ďthe sacred city of the children of Abraham. We pray to God that he brings peace and tranquillity to the entire world and that the peoples of the world resolve to put their differences aside and work for the common good. Humanity is the guiding principle by which we live and die upon.
By Dr Abdul B Shaikh