On May 22nd, the SETA Foundation at Washington DC hosted an event on “The Implications of the US Embassy Move to Jerusalem.” The discussion focused on what the move of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem means for future US policy in the region, how US allies and adversaries will react to the move, and what it means for the Israel-Palestine peace process. Panelists included Geoffrey Aronson, President of The Mortons Group; Lara Friedman, President of Foundation for Middle East Peace; Ghaith al-Omari, Senior Fellow of The Washington Institute; and, Kadir Ustun, Executive Director of the SETA Foundation at Washington DC. Kilic Burga Kanat, Research Director at the SETA Foundation at Washington DC moderated the event.
The Panelists answered specific questions asked by Kilic to begin the discussion. Geoffrey Aronson discussed the similar impact of the decision of the US Embassy move to Jerusalem will have as the Balfour Declaration. He compared the two decisions to each other noting that the Balfour Declaration gave evidence to Britain’s support of a Jewish state in a Palestinian State, supporting a Zionist community. He noted that Trump’s decision to move the embassy is also a declaration of support for a Zionist community. He also argued that the embassy acknowledges a success of an Israeli settlement package.
Lara Friedman reflected on what the decision of the US Embassy move to Jerusalem says about its foreign policy in the region. She noted that it signals people should take the administration at its word for policies they state they will enact in the region. She argued that the Trump administration’s policy is identical to the interests of Israel. She also noted that the Oslo era is over based on this decision. She claimed that the administration’s policy is a period of chaos implemented with an intent to reframe the Middle East based on what Israel wants. She does not think this will create stability.
Ghaith al-Omari spoke on the issue of whether or not a two-state solution remains an option based on the embassy move. He believed there is no option at the moment. With two national movements he stated it would be very difficult to find a two-state solution. He claimed that it is still the best strategic option, however noted that there is no short- or medium-term option for the two-state solution.
Kadir Ustun spoke last, commenting on other Arab countries and their response to the decision. He noted that in the region Arab countries are more concerned with Iran than they are with the Palestinian conflict. He added that Arab countries are trying to find a way to address the Palestinians, however it is not easy. He provided a Turkish perspective on the decision, noting that on both sides of the political spectrum the Turks were against the decision.