Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital reflects his growing closeness to Sunni Arabs
Pakistan has opposed, as have many states of the world both East and West, U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Trump’s move defies a U.N. Security Council resolution, voted on by the United States, mandating a two-state solution that would allow a Palestinian state to exist side-by-side with Israel—which acquired East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967 following the Six-Day War.
To be fair to Trump, his move does not come without warning. The U.S. president, during his electoral campaign, had promised that if elected he would move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Given the political map of the Middle East, he found 2017 to be the perfect time to make his move. Formally, the Muslim world will—and has—respond negatively to his announcement and there will be much trouble among Muslims as individuals and groups, if not at the state level. The European Union, with a lot of Muslims settled in it, will be greatly bothered, and Muslim Americans will be disturbed by an increasingly anti-Muslim sentiment with visa restrictions staring them in the face. Why did he do it?
Trump has already worked to reverse the Iran policy adopted by predecessor Barack Obama and challenged the former president’s nuclear deal that “normalized” Iran as a state in the eyes of the West keen on trading with it. This policy reversal has brought him closer to the Sunni Arabs of a region gone sectarian as Iranian “volunteers” fight the Sunnis in Iraq and Syria. Saudi Arabia leads the Sunni armies fighting Iranian influence in Yemen and, together with the United Arab Emirates, funds the government of General al-Sisi in Egypt against the extremist-Sunni Ikhwan opposed to “kingship.”
In this new strategic map, the Sunni alliance is strategically close to Israel, which is threatened by the pro-Iran Shia militia Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon. The stage is now set for Israel to walk away with Jerusalem and thus nullify the international legal obligation of the two-state resolution.