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Michael Oren
photo by Rhonda Spivak

Editor's Report: Deputy Minister Michael Oren, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S on Trump's Jerusalem Declaration and Building in Jerusalem over the Green Line

by Rhonda Spivak, January 2, 2015


 "There are 'global implications' to the historic announcement President Trump has made declaring Jerusalem as Israel's capital and instructing that preparations be made to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, Michael Oren, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States says. Oren, who is currently Deputy Minister in the Israeli Prime  Minister's Office emphasized that in doing so Trump has  fulfilled his campaign pledge and  "When President Trump stands by his word, other countries in the world, such as Iran and North Korea take notice."
Oren spoke on a conference call organized by The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs , the advocacy arm of the Jewish Federations of Canada (There were 1000 from accross the country participating in the call)
Oren said Trump is sending a message to the Palestinians that when you leave the negotiating table, "you pay the price," which is what happens generally in the business world. Oren noted that up to now (under the Obama administration, for example) when the Palestinians left the table , "they were  rewarded rather than paying a price."
Dr. Eran Lerman,former deputy for foreign policy and international affairs at the National Security Council in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, made  a similar point. He said that up to now PA President Abbas "envisioned a future in which Israel wold be coerced" by the United States and the international community into  "a total withdrawal" from the territories , including "a partition of Jerusalem, and some return of refugees," and this declaration was meant to bring Abbas back into reality to let him know that a solution will not be imposed on Israel by the United States. 
"This  whole vision of an imposed solution has become central to the Palestinian position. Without shaking Palestinians out of this position, they'll be no chance for successful negotiations," Lerman said, adding that Trump understands this
Trump's declaration also gave a message to the Israelis that the two state solution could be back on the table as long as Palestinians come to the table," Lerman added
Oren said that the Palestinians had an opportunity with Trump's Jerusalem declaration, which hopefully they wouldn't miss as they have missed other opportunities. He said that rather than turning to violence, Palestinians "could use this as an opportunity" to  ask Trump to "make a gesture to them just as he has made a gesture to us" and Trump will deliver, as he has shown that he is a man of his word. 
Oren noted that under the Obama administration, every time Israel wanted to build further housing in communities such as French Hill and Ramat Eshkol that are technically over the green line but in reality will remain part of Israel under any future peace agreement, they were condemned. The US "won't condemn" building in these areas now, Oren indicated, saying that this was an on the ground practical effect of the declaration. He added that Israel had announced that it will be building more homes in the  neighborhood of Gilo, over the green line, but that Trump's administration would not issue any condemnation of this, whereas the Obama administration would have. "This is no longer US policy,"Oren stated.  ( Editor's note: Bolstered by US President Donald Trump’s declaration recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the government is reportedly planning to build around 14,000 units in the city, some 6,000 of them in East Jerusalem.
Oren said that the final result of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians should not be "pre-judged. He said , The Palestinian Authority should come to the table, and with "creativity and goodwill" they could advance the peace process.
Lerman added that although Arab states have condemned Trump's Jerusalem declaration, "None of this will translate into a major Arab response," he said, Although states such as Egypt and Jordan and Saudia Arabia have denounced the decision publicly, "at the end of the day there's no action they intend to take" (such as breaking off diplomatic relations with the United States.). 
Lerman said"The Saudis have more important issues [ to deal with ] than where will [ US ]Ambassador [to Israel] Friedman be eating his breakfast" in a year or  a few years from now. 
Lerman also noted that  he does not foresee opposition to Trump's Jerusalem declaration as feuling Palestinian unity between Hamas and fatah. He said the crux of the matter of Palestinian reconciliation was whether "Hamas forces will come under Fatah", and if not, then "[Palestinian] unity is  a sham
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.