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Rallying Cry of Jerusalem May Have Lost Force in Arab World

December 08,2017 07:19

BEIRUT, Lebanon — For decades, the idea of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital served as a rare and powerful rallying cry that united the Arab world. Kings and dictators stumped for it, priests and imams prayed for it, jihadists and ...


In some ways, the move is symbolic and only confirms the grim view of the Palestinian future. People in the region have long seen the United States as deeply biased toward Israel and the hopes for a viable Palestinian state as fading.
But the American declaration casts into doubt the most important Palestinian hope that was still seen as achievable: a capital in East Jerusalem. Calling Jerusalem the Israeli capital without acknowledging its significance to Arabs comes off to them as a denial of the Muslim and Arab perspective, analysts said.
“For Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, it has the same effect that denial of Jewish claims to Jerusalem has to Jews,” said Barnett R. Rubin, a former senior State Department adviser.
Moreover, he said, the move “confirms the narrative that the U.S. is at war with Islam and has no respect for Muslim and Arab perspectives.”
That perception is likely to damage the standing of the United States in the region.
“This will do tremendous damage to America’s image and interests in the region,” said Nabil Fahmy, a former foreign minister of Egypt. Of Mr. Trump, he added, “He is playing into the hands of the extremists and giving easy ammunition to extremists and terrorists.”
The move could also strengthen Iran, giving it back the mantle of resistance it lost when it sided with Syria’s government against an uprising. The elite force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, led by Qasim Souleimani, is called the Quds Force, named for Jerusalem.
“We just handed him a claim to lead the cause,” Mr. Rubin said.
The focus on Jerusalem may also provide fresh ammunition to violent extremists in the region. The Islamic State’s powerful affiliate in Egypt was born from the militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, whose name translates as “Supporters of Jerusalem.”
But for many, outrage at Mr. Trump’s actions mixed with a sense of weary resignation. “We’ll see token protests and criticism from some countries,” Nadia Mohamed, a Twitter user from Misurata, Libya, wrote. “The media will make noise and then it will soon be over.”

Palestinians,Arabs,Jerusalem (Israel),East Jerusalem

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