Capitalizing Jerusalem: Trump, Zionism and Third Intifada

The question of Palestine is largely centered on the question of Jerusalem, or Al Quds, and its status quo. This holy site of major three religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), has been known as a space of rivalry throughout historical periods. Huge battles were fought to regain control over this site at various junctures of history. The emergence of Zionism in Europe in the late 19th centurey made a great deal in the course of history with its direct efforts to create a Zionist state in Palestine raising  the false slogan of ‘A land without people for a people without land’. Even though Zionism emerged as a secular ideology with a political agenda, its leaders declared their convictions on basis of the ancient Judaic traditions and a ‘homeland for Jewish People’. Their support to the British colonialism during the First World War and later tragic events of the Second World War, especially the Nazi Holocaust, made the call for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine popular in western capitals. Jerusalem was declared an international area in the US plan for the partition of Palestine among Jews and Arabs. It was occupied by Jordan in 1948 and fell under Israeli occupation in June 1967. Being an occupied territory, it remains under the protection of Jordan Waqf authorities. The Israeli occupation forces have tried to gain control of Al Aqsa area through surveillance and bar the entry of men  between 15-45 years of age into the holy precinct. This has led to local confrontations and international uproar from time to time since 1967. The UN and its various agencies including UNESCO have passed umpteen resolutions condemning Israeli activities which are in flagrant violation of international laws governing occupied lands.

The latest move of the American President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his announcement of shifting the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has been condemned globally. This unprecedented move has invited huge global condemnation. Former Prime Minister of Palestine and Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyah, declared a ‘Third Intifada’ to restore the status of Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. Shaikh Hasan Nasrallah of Hizbullah referred Trump’s declaration as the ‘Second Balfour declaration’ to legitimize the Zionist Israel after one century of occupation and colonialism. Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan declared Israel as a ‘Terrorist State’, while threatening to sever diplomatic relations with the latter. The emergency meeting of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has approved East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. These active involvements to counter the American move made an astounding show of unity and solidarity in the Muslim World and the supporters of the Palestinian struggle worldwide.

Despite these expressions of solidarity and support to the Palestinian stand, see a large chunk of countries standing with the Israeli colonialism and settlement regime. The regional interests and the influence of Jewish lobby in the United States of America support Israel against any move to threaten the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands including Jerusalem.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement is getting threats and challenges on a daily basis. The countries supporting Palestine are also receiving threats of boycott. The recent sanctions of the major GCC countries and Egypt against Qatar since 5 June this year can be seen as an example of this. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Egypt severed diplomatic relations with Qatar on the pretext of Qatar’s support to ‘Terrorism’, Al Jazeera Channel, relations with Iran and Hamas. Hamas has been dubbed by these countries as terrorist and Qatar is accused of helping it financially and diplomatically.

Israelis the lone nuclear power in the West Asian region. The matter is clear: when a country acts against the interests of Israel and America, it would be treated as ‘Terrorist-supporter’. At the same time, the terror which the USA and Israel have been unleashing on the West Asian region and Palestine has never been questioned by the global community.

We are witnessing growing support of India to Israel. This was made worse by the visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Tel Aviv last July. Regarding Trump’s recognition of occupied Jerusalem as capital of Israel, Raveesh Kumar, spokesman of India's Ministry of External Affairs, said that "India's position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country". This statement is consistent with the past Indian policy on Palestine. For decades India has supported the Palestinian cause byt the current government of Prime Minister Modi is making a drastic shift in our diplomatic orientation in favour of Israel.

The author is a Research Fellow, Centre for West Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and may be contacted at hishamulwahab(at)



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