US President Trump’s declaration that his administration recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and plans to shift the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a bid to confer legitimacy on Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. This decision has rightly received condemnation from around the world, including from several member countries of the United Nations Security Council who condemned the decision at an emergency meeting of the UNSC.
The declaration has also removed the US’ mask as a “neutral mediator” between Palestine and Israel, and exposed the truth: that the US was never interested in brokering a “two-state solution” or a “peace process” and has always worked to facilitate and promote Israel’s policies of settler-colonialism and apartheid towards the Palestinian people.
President Trump’s declaration is patently illegal under international law. A UN Security Council resolution of 1947 recognized Jerusalem as international territory having a special status. Israel flouted this resolution and occupied West Jerusalem in 1948 in the Arab-Israel war, following the Nakba in which Zionist militia forcibly evicted some 7 lakh Palestinians from Palestine. In 1967, Israel occupied East Jerusalem after the Six Day War. In 1980, Israel passed a law declaring “complete and united Jerusalem” as the capital of Israel, and intensified its process of settling Israeli population in Jerusalem. A UNSC resolution of 1980 declared Israeli actions to be illegal, stating that “measures which have altered the geographic, demographic and historical character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem are null and void and constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”
For decades now, Israel has reduced Palestinians in Jerusalem to stateless persons, having “residency permits” that the Israeli state can and does revoke at will, and demolishes Palestinian homes to make way for Israeli settlements. Trump’s declaration will further legitimize the revocation of such permits and the establishments of such Israeli settlements – which are a war crime under international law. Jared Kushner, who is an advisor to Trump and also Trump’s son-in-law, is co-director in a foundation that raises money for these illegal settlements.
Prior to Trump’s declaration, Kushner had made public promises that the Trump Administration was brokering a “peace deal” between Israel and Palestine with the cooperation of the crown prince Salman of Saudi Arabia. Palestinian leaders had already pointed out that this proposed “deal” was an attempt to legitimize Israeli occupation – by denying sovereign statehood and control over contiguous territory to Palestine, by instead restricting the Palestinian population to “Bantustans” – apartheid areas surrounded by Israeli territory, and by denying Palestine a right to East Jerusalem as their capital city. Trump’s declaration, far from being a disruption of this “peace process”, is fully in line with such proposals which are an affront to any sense of justice and dignity for the Palestinian people.
Most Governments of the world have refused to recognize Jerusalem as anything but territory illegally occupied by Israel, and Trump’s declaration has left him globally isolated. In this backdrop, the Government of India’s refusal to condemn Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a measure of the servility of the Modi Government to the US Administration. By avoiding condemnation of this declaration, the Modi Government is allowing US interests to dictate and distort India’s foreign policy.
The Modi Government and the BJP and RSS see Zionist Israel as a model for their goal of India as a fascist Hindu Nation. But the very fact that this Government too is not able to openly endorse Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (instead the Government has just avoided any direct comment and reiterated its commitment to India’s “independent and consistent” position on Palestine) betrays the fact that it has no mandate from India’s people to endorse Israeli occupation of Palestine!
Trump’s declaration was followed by massive protests by Palestinians in occupied West Bank, occupied East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip marking a “Day of Rage”. Israel, meanwhile bombed the Gaza Strip on the pretext of targeting Hamas military installations, killing two and injuring 25 Palestinian civilians including six children, one of them a six-month old baby.
The people of Palestine and India share a long history of anti-colonial resistance and mutual solidarity. 2017 marks a 100 years of the infamous “Balfour Declaration” whereby the British colonists promised Palestine as the “national home of the Jews.” As a colonial power, the British had no legal or moral right to be handing over Palestine to the Jews. The eventual establishment of Israel flowed from this blatantly colonial declaration. AISA calls upon India’s people to stand in solidarity with Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation, and to demand that the Indian Government protest Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.