Trump’s Jerusalem Decision May Lead to Permanent Peace in Israel

The American president, Donald Trump, has made a bold decision.

By announcing that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he has not only proven himself as a reliable ally whose word can be counted on, but also a courageous leader who is not afraid to stand for what is right.

This decision is right for Israel, it is right for the United States, and it has a good chance of positively influencing the possibility for peace in our region.

"Jerusalem is an inseparable part of Israel and her eternal capital. No United Nations vote can alter that historic fact."

This quote was not said by one of our leaders in response to the shameful Security Council resolution 2334 last December. It was part of a statement by Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, on December 5, 1949 only days after the UN voted for a resolution calling for the internationalization of Jerusalem.

Ben Gurion's response was to move forward with a planned announcement about the moving of our Knesset (parliament) and other national institutions to Jerusalem.

The announcement by the Israeli government was met with condemnations from around the world. The US even went as far as to refuse to hold any diplomatic meetings in Jerusalem and they continued to send official cables to an office of our Foreign Ministry in Tel Aviv.

GettyImages-888189248 Palestinian Muslims pray in front of the Dome of the Rock mosque at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, December 8, 2017. Israel deployed hundreds of additional police officers after Palestinian calls for protests after the main weekly Muslim prayers against Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty

Nevertheless, Ben Gurion's brave decision was the right one for Israel. It made clear the idea of turning our historic capital into an international zone administered by others was a non-starter for Israel.  

The decision also had long-term positive effects such as galvanizing Jews around the world with an allegiance to the holy city which had served as our capital since the days of King David.

Prime Minister Ben Gurion also put the countries of the region on notice that Israel would not shy away from making the right decisions – even in the face of international pressure.

Similarly, President Trump's decision carries immense significance for Israel and our region.

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed President Trump to Israel last May, he did so in what he called “Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, the united capital of the Jewish state.” By publicly affirming this vital understanding of our national being, President Trump has laid the groundwork for other countries to soon follow suit.

While some may doubt that other states will want to make such a move for fear of retribution from Arab countries, it is important to recall that many countries around the world take their cues from the US when it comes to certain aspects of their foreign policy.

This decision is also beneficial for the US interests. Israel is America's most stable and loyal ally in the Middle East. We stand by the US at the UN, and in every other forum, on almost every question of foreign policy.

Public opinion of the US by Israelis is consistently one of the highest in the world. More importantly, Israel is an island of stability in the one of the world's most tumultuous regions.

America knows that our democracy is strong, and our commitment to safety and security can be counted on and this in turn serves US interests in the Middle East.

Critics of US foreign policy have made the claim that over the past few years American allies have often been taken for granted while adversaries were rewarded. The nuclear agreement with Iran and past decisions to turn a blind eye to Assad's brutal regime in Syria are just two examples of America's opponents who have benefited from this policy.

Recognizing Jerusalem as our capital serves notice that the US respects its allies and supports them.

Finally, and probably most importantly, this decision may set in motion events that will make peace between Israelis and Palestinians more likely.

Israel exists in a tough neighborhood where strength is respected and perceived weakness can lead to disaster. Our two peace treaties were reached after Egypt and Jordan understood that Israel is here to stay and no amount of war or military might can defeat us.  

Similarly, the Palestinians began considering diplomatic negotiations – in addition to their ongoing terror campaigns – only in the aftermath of the Gulf War when they lost the hope of forcing a settlement on Israel through the prism of Cold War politics.

The recognition of Jerusalem as our capital can serve as a healthy reality check for the Palestinians. As more and more countries begin to recognize our capital as fully under Israeli sovereignty, the reality will set in that neither terrorism nor Security Council resolutions will succeed in forcing our hand on a compromise in Jerusalem.

This understanding will remove the issue of Jerusalem from the other thorny final status disputes that have long vexed negotiations between us and the Palestinians. Freed from at least one part of their unrealistic expectations, this may encourage the Palestinians will finally turn to real direct negotiations.

There are times when leaders have to make the hard choice not only because there may be great geopolitical benefits from such a move, but because it is simply the right thing to do. This is what guided Prime Minister Ben Gurion when he moved the Knesset to Jerusalem almost seven decades ago.

President Trump has made a similar courageous decision today.

Danny Danon is Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations.