On Wednesday, 6th December, U.S President Donald Trump made an announcement that the U.S would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Trump's announcement went to the heart of the Israeli - Palestinian conflict that has been ongoing for decades, as he has essentially reversed decades of official U.S. policy, and in the process contradicted international consensus.
Following this announcement by Trump - Marketing, News & Information Media: MNI Media - reached out to speak with Palestinian civil society leader Omar Barghouti about what’s happening on the ground in Palestine.
Omar Barghouti is a human rights defender and co-founder of the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), which represents most political parties, trade unions, NGO networks, and the largest refugee rights network. He is based in Israel/Palestine and is singularly attuned to what is happening on the ground, and to the implications of this major development.
Read below Omar's Interview with MNI Media:
MNI Media: Following the announcement by Trump, what is the mood there on the ground?
OB: There is overwhelming anger at the colonial hubris of the US emperor thinking he can bestow legitimacy on Israel's patently illegal military occupation and annexation of Jerusalem.
But most Palestinians, supported by millions of Arabs and people of conscience around the world, insist that this will not weaken our popular resistance to Israel's policies of ethnic cleansing, home demolitions, siege and extrajudicial killings.
There is a strong feeling that the US administration has finally lost any pretense of being a fair moderator and any remaining credibility, and this may spell the end of the fraudulent "peace process" which has covered Israel's ongoing theft of Palestinian land.
MNI Media: Why do you think Trump has decided to make this decision going contrary to all previous policy on the status of Jerusalem?
OB: Trump's administration is appeasing its major donors and a small yet very influential part of its far-right constituency--fanatic Zionist Christians and anti-Palestinian, supremacist Jewish extremists.
Trump's Mideast team is the most dishonest broker in the history of supposed US peacemaking, with all three being supporters of the extreme right in Israel, including the fascist settler movements. It follows that his Mideast policy primarily serves the interests of the Israeli far-right at the expense of long-term US policy and established US interests.
MNI Media: How do you see this impacting the peace efforts moving forward?
OB: The so-called "peace process" has been dead for years now. But Trump has just issued its death certificate.
Without the necessary cover of this fraudulent, deeply unjust peace process, and with its US patron's exacerbating isolation worldwide, Israel's regime of oppression will be far more susceptible to international sanctions and its South Africa moment will draw near.
For this to happen, though, Palestinians and our progressive partners worldwide need to intensify our effective BDS campaigns to isolate Israel's regime of colonial oppression academically, culturally, financially and otherwise.
MNI Media: Why is Jerusalem important to any hopes of as future Palestinian state?
OB: Jerusalem lies at the heart of Palestinian identity and is a unique spiritual, cultural and symbolic center for Palestinian life. It is also sacred for monotheistic religions, including about 1.5 billion Muslims.
No state in the world recognizes Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, and the UN recognized East Jerusalem as occupied Palestinian territory. So by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the Trump administration is undermining international law and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. It is also isolating itself and trashing decades of US policy.
MNI Media: Trump has been accused in the past of making decisions and comments that have very heavy racial and xenophobic overtones, do you think this decision he has announced fits that pattern also?
OB: Trump's extensive reference to Israel's far-right policies of ethnic profiling, militarized walls and extreme racial violence as a model for his own fanatic and racist policies in the US and around the world confirm Israel's status today as a senior member of the xenophobic -- mostly anti-semitic -- far-right club that is growing in the US, Europe, India and elsewhere.
In the U.S., the strong connection between U.S. support for Israel's wars of aggression and policies of apartheid and ethnic cleansing on the one hand and severe cuts in social, health and educational services in the US on the other must be exposed and acted upon. Exploring the intersectionality of our struggle for liberation with struggles for racial, economic, social, gender and climate justice in the US and beyond is crucial in this respect.
The most important campaigns that progressives can support at all levels are those aimed at cutting U.S. military aid to Israel, divesting and excluding from contracts companies that are implicated in Israel's egregious human rights violations, and shifting budget priorities from militarization, wars and securitization to a peace economy that benefits communities across the US and the world.
MNI Media: Do you see this official U.S recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital legitimize the expansionist's push to create more settlements?
MNI Media: How do you think the Palestinian Leadership should respond?
OB: We do not have an elected Palestinian leadership with a democratic mandate to lead. A truly democratic, responsible and principled Palestinian leadership would sever all ties with the US administration, mobilize as many states around the world to impose serious sanctions against Israel similar to those imposed on apartheid South Africa, and lead a globalized, peaceful Palestinian intifada to raise the price of Israel's apartheid regime to an unsustainable level.