“Realities on the Ground” About Jerusalem Decision Debated


USCPR Executive Director Yousef Munayyer appears on CBS News opposite Dani Dayan, current consul general of Israel, to provide a critical perspective on Trump’s announcement of US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Watch the segment here

ELAINE QUIJANO: We just heard Dani Dayan. He said the government of the Palestinian Authority would be responsible for any protests in response to President Trump’s announcement. What do you make of that?

YOUSEF MUNAYYER: Well, look, I think it’s important to understand that Mr. Dayan is a very strong supporter of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. He has claimed that he supports the idea of a Palestinian state, but he’s actually written publicly and in the New York Times, in fact, that he is opposed to the idea of a Palestinian state, and wants to keep the status quo of military occupation over Palestinians for ever and ever, to continue the building of the settlements in Occupied Territory, what he calls Judea and Samaria. So people should not be fooled. Mr. Dayan is very much a right-wing extremist and unfortunately a representative of the Israeli government these days because that’s how far right-wing the Israeli government has gotten.

What I’m concerned about, and I think what we should all be concerned about, is not just the violence that may take place as a reaction to this, but the systemic violence that takes place on a routine basis as part of this now multi-decade long military occupation, Israeli military occupation, that is visited upon the Palestinians on a routine basis. And I’m most concerned for Palestinians living in Jerusalem who have been the victims of very specific Israeli policies aimed at re-engineering the demographics of that city to push Palestinians out.

These are policies like home demolitions, home evictions, residency revocations, limitations on movement, and so on. And all of these policies and the right-wing politicians that support them like Mr. Dayan and others in the Israeli government are now gonna be emboldened, because they just got a green light from the United States saying that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, what they see as a Jewish state, and they will take that as a blank check to continue these very dangerous policies aimed at pushing the Palestinian population of Jerusalem out.

QUIJANO: Let me ask you to elaborate on that. What specifically are you concerned about in terms of the treatment of Palestinians right now since the US announcement by President Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israeli’s capital?

MUNAYYER: Well I think one of the most troubling things that the President said today in his declaration of recognition was that we have to recognize this as a reality on the ground. But the truth of the matter is, because you have such a dramatic imbalance of power between a very strong Israeli state and a stateless Palestinian people, one side, the Israelis, is the only side capable of creating these realities on the ground. So if there is nobody that is going to restrain them, they will continue to create realities in the form of settlements, realities in the form of pushing Palestinians out of the city of Jerusalem, the infrastructure of military occupation, which is dividing Palestinian populations up and preventing their free movement and the exercise of their rights. And these are not the kind of realities that anybody who wants to see peace and justice should recognize. These are the kinds of realities that people of good will should object to very forcefully. And so I think it’s very unbecoming of the President of the United States to look at these injustices and recognize them as something that cannot be changed. If anything, the President of the United States should be stating the opposite.

QUIJANO: How, in your analysis, does this move change the prospects of a peace agreement?

MUNAYYER: Well, look, you know the United States has attempted to act as a mediator between Israelis and Palestinians on the principles that were put forward at the foundation of this so-called peace process, one of them being that the United States was going to remain neutral on certain issues, in particular on the status of Jerusalem. And here, the President of the United States today reversed that position, making very clear that the guarantees that underpinned the beginnings of this negotiations process have been thrown out the window. So for the very few people who still believed that the peace process mediated by Washington could result in a just peace, they now too must recognize that that is not going to happen. I think what we are going to see instead is growing efforts by civil society internationally to hold Israel accountable through various methods, including nonviolent economic action in the form of international boycotts, continued efforts to divest from Israel’s abuses of Palestinian rights, and also the movement to pursue sanctions from various governments around the world on the Israeli state until their violations come to an end.