The controversial or rather political move by Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital ignited the religious sentiment of Muslims all over the world triggering protests across the Muslim world and drawing strong condemnation.
Why is moving of US embassy such a controversy?
The status of Jerusalem has been a matter of dispute for both Israel and Palestine. Within one sq. km of the old city of Jerusalem lie the three holy sites. All of which are religiously important for Muslims Christians and Jews. Al-AQSA MOSQUE, which is also ‘qibla e awwal’ for Muslims. The WESTERN WALL, where Jews from all over the world come to pray. The CHURCH OF HOLY SEPULCHER, where Christians believe Jesus is buried after being crucified.
Israel consider Jerusalem as its capital and for Palestine, Jerusalem will be the future capital of the liberated Palestine state. The partition plan envisaged by United Nations as a result of its resolution in 1947 recommended the creation of an independent Arab and Jewish states while the city of Jerusalem was declared an ‘international city’. The Plan was accepted by the Jewish Agency for Palestine, despite its perceived limitations. Arab leaders and governments rejected it arguing that it violated the principles of national self-determination in the UN Charter which granted people the right to decide their own destiny.
The Partition Plan, provided for the termination of the Mandate of British proposed withdrawal of British armed forces and the delineation of boundaries between the two States. Part 1 of the Plan stipulated that the Mandate would be terminated as soon as possible and the United Kingdom would withdraw no later than 1 August 1948. The new states would come into existence two months after the withdrawal, but no later than 1 October 1948. After the resolution was adapted, a civil-war broke out in Palestine as British left a power vacuum in Palestine. On 14 May 1948, the Jewish People’s Council had gathered at the Tel Aviv Museum, and approved a proclamation, declaring “the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel”. Arab-Israel war 1948 broke out subsequently. The war left Israel in control of West Jerusalem, where the bulk of the Jewish population lived, and Jordan in control of the mostly Arab eastern side, containing the holiest sites
During the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel occupied East Jerusalem ousting Jordan. Since then, the entire city has been under Israel’s authority. In 2015, more than a third of Jerusalem’s residents were Palestinians.
In 1980, Israel passed a law and declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. United Nations Security Council declared it a violation of international law.
By 2006, all the countries of the world have moved their embassies out of Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.
Now if US move its embassy to Jerusalem, it’ll obviously mean that US has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel which will leave Palestine with no claim on the holy city.
This is a contentious issue. Muslims from all over the world share deep and precarious religious sentiments with Palestine. The sacrifices of Palestinians made for the liberation is held in high esteems all over the Muslim world. The brutal repression of innocent Palestinian by Israel is a tale of sorrows and miseries. Every now and then, Israel unleash its barbarism on Palestinians which results in shahadat of Palestinians. Israel Defence Forces (IDF), carryout raids and ill legal abduction of Palestinians irrespective of age; even kids are arrested and accused of terrorism.
But, have Muslims all over the world failed Palestinians?
There is a lot to introspect. What have Muslim countries done to alleviate the miseries of Palestine?
Shrugging aside the popular -more foolish- narrative of ‘Ummat e Muslima k khilaf sazish’, let’s be rational. Israel is a might, in terms of military, economy and education. No Muslim country is powerful enough to stand up to Israel and its allies.
There are multitude reasons to this. To have a say in the world politics, you need to be powerful in terms of economy atleast. No Muslim world has that economic juggernaut to enforce its views. The Organization of Islamic Countries comprises of 57 states. These 57 OIC countries have a combined GDP (at Purchasing power parity; PPP) of US$ 18.6 billion and Combined GDP (nominal) of 49 Muslim majority countries is US$ 6.5 trillion, which is 8% of the world’s total.
In the Human Development Index (HDI) which is an index of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators, which are used to rank countries according to human development, Muslim countries don’t have admirable numbers. According to UNDP Human Development report, no Muslim country is in the top 30 in terms of human development. This shows the mediocre life standards of majority Muslim population.
Another reason is the over dependence of Muslim countries over developed countries who are all the allies of Israel –chiefly US-. Every Muslim country is extracting perks and enjoying US’ aid in one way or the other. As the famous cliché goes ‘beggars can’t be choosers’. For the relatively rich Muslim states, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Gulf states, it is not so much about money but, interests. All of them are dependent on US for military and economic support.
How diplomatic relations between Muslim countries with Israel and its allies stand?
Saudi Arabia is the biggest importer of US’ arms. Saudi Arabia is also entrenched in a fierce regional war with Iran as its biggest foe. Saudi Arabia and Iran are adversaries in every proxy war, with US on Saudi Arabia’s side, it need constant support of the super power to negate Iran. This is also imperative for US. So, expecting Saudi Arabia to be face to face with US on this issue is a delusion.
UAE is far away from any such tussle, it has a focused agenda of development. Other gulf states all kowtow Saudi Arab’s line, clearly evident in recent Qatar crises.
Turkey; another powerful state recently reinstated its ties with Israel in 2016. Israel and Turkey agreed to build an underwater pipeline connecting Israel’s massive offshore gas field Leviathan to Turkey. Despite of President Eradogan’s agitated threat to cut diplomatic ties with Israel, it seems unlikely, although Eradogan has appeared to be the most vociferous critic of Israeli atrocities in recent uproar.
Moving on from Turkey, Pakistan, a military might, but strongly lacks diplomatic power to even be an actor in this issue, let alone play a role.
All in all, no Muslim nation has the monopoly to challenge US and Israel.
It narrows down to ordinary Muslims residing in Muslim states. They have strong sentiments for Palestinians, but, their idea of protest is futile. Burning an Israeli flag or cursing US in a far away Muslim state will do not even a modicum of harm to US. Muslims need to channelize their way of venting this agitation. They have to take it to forums where they can actually create a difference in the entire matter. They need to mobilize them such that they can force their leaders to make a move. This can make more of an impact.
Hoping UN and OIC to be a catalyst of peace is absurdity. UN has little to no success in resolving conflicts pertaining Muslim world. Most recent attempt by United Nation to pass a resolution condemning the decision of President Trump was vetoed by US and US ambassador Nikki Haley admonished countries that vetoed in favor of the resolution threatening that US will be taking names of the countries that will vote in favor of any such resolution in the session of General Assembly called on this matter. President Trump also threatened to cut the aid of the countries voting against US’ decision.
It is an issue of beliefs as well of power. Had there been a strong Muslim state or had there been an exemplary unity among Muslim countries, the plight of Palestinians, Syrians, Yemenis, Kashmiri’s and Rohingiyan’s would have been alleviated.
It is not a decision to bring peace to this tumultuous region. It is a political decision by a mad man to appease his partners. It has drawn flak even from countries that are US’ allies. It is a matter that is of concern for the entire world and people all over the world feel sympathized towards Palestinians.
Sadly, the ‘Islamic countries’’ are involved in a fierce war among themselves, all that matters to them are their petty interests and taking sides to achieve those interest is what has left the entire Muslim world in disarray. Muslim world should have got its priorities sorted. If they had a leadership more inclined towards development rather that amassing wealth, Muslims would have been in a better position in this volatile situation.