No one knows for sure the exact decision or decisions President Donald Trump is planning to announce on Wednesday regarding his expected recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. And so the IDF has prepared a plan for staggered stages of readiness, depending on the actual announcement, with the most sensitive focal point being the Temple Mount area and eastern Jerusalem, as well as the majority-Hamas city of Hebron in Judea. The target date for a violent eruption is Friday, the Muslim day of rest.
According to media reports, even senior officials in the Trump administration do not know for sure whether Trump will make do with a general statement of recognition of the status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, or will add a specific commitment to moving the embassy in the near future.
Either way, Israel is preparing for escalation scenarios in Jerusalem and the liberated territories, alongside demonstrations in the capitals of Arab countries.
Following Trump’s call to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the PA media reported the president would announce moving the embassy, but the Israeli security establishment is expecting the announcement to be more complex. Trump is notoriously unpredictable, and between his call to Abbas and the announcement he has been and continues to be under enormous pressure from US friends and foes alike to re-think his decision.
Ha’aretz noted Wednesday morning that an eruption of anti-Israel violence in Gaza and the PA over the Jerusalem announcement is a boon for both Fatah and Hamas, because it would provide an opportunity for a show of solidarity, masking the stalled reconciliation talks between the two parties.
PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi on Tuesday issued a statement blaming Trump for the violence which is bound to erupt, curiously referring to Arab savagery as a force of nature that cannot be stopped once Trump opens the floodgates. Nowhere in her statement does Ashrawi pause to urge her people to restrain themselves from rioting violently:
“…President Trump seems to be hell-bent on annihilating the chances of peace and destroying the stability and security of the entire region and beyond, provoking violence and playing into the hands of extremists and terrorists around the world. He is willfully committing an act of the utmost folly which is not only illegal but also designed to inflame religious and spiritual sentiments, and raise the specter of sectarianism and religious strife. It simultaneously emboldens the most aggressive, hard-line and warmongering elements in Israel to guarantee the destruction of the two-state solution.”
Like we said, nothing about how the mature Arab populace will react responsibly by writing their representatives and boycotting Coca Cola.
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas sent an urgent message to the UN secretary-general urging the UN Security Council to intervene. One part of his message reads almost like a prophecy which should encourage Israeli rightwingers who have grown accustomed to the idea of an inevitable two-state solution:
“These steps will lead to a fundamental change in the position of the United States on the question of Palestine,” Abbas wrote. “Efforts to revive the peace process will be greatly undermined.”
It’s about time.