Will The New U.S. Embassy Lead To Peace?

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The Detroit Jewish News asked experts on Israel, foreign policy, religion and/or other relevant fields to answer important questions on everyone’s mind in the midst of the recent news from the Middle East. Here are some of their answers.

The U.S. Embassy has moved. Will it help or hinder the prospects for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians?

Victor Lieberman, Raoul Wallenberg Distinguished University Professor of History and Professor of Asian and Comparative History

Read answers from question 1

Victor Lieberman:

There was virtually no prospect of substantive peace talks before the opening of the U.S. Embassy, so it’s hard to argue that that act will blight what had been a promising option.

Dr. Frederic Pearson:

Dr. Frederic Pearson is the Director of the Wayne State University Center for Peace and Conflict Studies and Professor of Political Science, a specialist on international conflict resolution and military intervention.
Dr. Frederic Pearson is the Director of the Wayne State University Center for Peace and Conflict Studies and Professor of Political Science, a specialist on international conflict resolution and military intervention.

The US embassy move should have been part of “final status” talks, not a premature and needless step to fulfill a rash campaign promise. It already has further inflamed an already incendiary situation both in Gaza and the West Bank, and reference to the latter as “Greater Israel” also harms any U.S. moderating influence in the region. Like the Camp David accords with Egypt, an Israeli-Palestinian peace will require a trusted guarantor for both parties; Washington has unfortunately relinquished any such role.

Dr. Michael Pytlik is the Director of Judaic Studies and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Oakland University. He has worked at several archaeological sites in Israel and yearly takes students for excavations.
Dr. Michael Pytlik is the Director of Judaic Studies and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Oakland University. He has worked at several archaeological sites in Israel and yearly takes students for excavations.

Dr. Michael Pytlik:

While I am not an expert on the future, I can only look at what has occurred. In this case, the embassy move was, in my mind, unnecessary. I agree that every nation should declare its own capital, and Jerusalem is that and should remain that. The U.S. already has a functioning consulate in Jerusalem, and this move is largely symbolic, but it has more than symbolic ramifications. It cannot help the peace process. It might well damage the process. That process is currently not being tended to with any seriousness by the current administration in Washington. While things calm as quickly as they ramp up in the Middle East, this issue may have knock-on serious consequences. Americans could suffer if reprisals turn toward them. I don’t see it as helpful, especially when there is nothing in place to help calm the situation since Washington is more about symbols than substance at this time. There is a total lack of a competent foreign policy, strong relations with allies and no mechanism to maintain trust with Iran. From what I’m being told, and what I read, Iran was keeping to the agreement.

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Howard Lupovitch:

Professor Howard Lupovitch is a member of the History Department and Director of the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies at Wayne State University.
Professor Howard Lupovitch is a member of the History Department and Director of the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies at Wayne State University.

Relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem will likely hinder the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, due not only to Palestinian anger but also to Israeli and Jewish euphoria. To be sure, both anger and euphoria are reasonable reactions and not at all surprising: Jewish and Israeli Euphoria, given the deep connection to the city of Jerusalem since Biblical times; and Palestinian anger, due to a sense among Palestinians that they’re connection to Jerusalem is being denied. In fact, both euphoria and anger are premature at this point. The particulars of the embassy move do not preclude the American president making a similar overture to the Palestinians in the future by promising an American embassy to a future Palestinian state in East Jerusalem.  This, especially given that, far more challenging and complicated than the promise to move the embassy, the President promised his Jewish and Evangelical supporters that he would negotiate a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. He may well discover, sooner rather than later, that situating the embassy to Israel in Jerusalem without a parallel gesture to the Palestinians will make this larger deal unattainable. The truth is, every American president since Nixon has favored relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, but as the culmination of a negotiated peace settlement (The peace settlement was dinner; moving the embassy is dessert — Trump has effectively served dessert before dinner, a major no-no in any Parenting 101 handbook).

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