How The Arab World Is Responding To Trump's Jerusalem Move

Originally published on December 6, 2017 8:10 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The many people who will follow President Trump's announcement on Jerusalem today include Daoud Kuttab. He's a Palestinian journalist based in Jordan. Palestinians, like Israelis, have a huge interest in what Trump says today. The president is expected to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which other nations do not. Much of the city was captured by Israel in the 1967 war, and its future status is unresolved. Mr. Kuttab, welcome to the program.

DAOUD KUTTAB: Thank you for having me.

INSKEEP: What are Palestinians saying?

KUTTAB: Well, Palestinians, Muslims, Arabs - a lot of people are talking about this as being a deal breaker, that this is going to ruin the - any possibility of a peace process that's based on a two-state solution. You know, we're all trying to find a way to have an agreement in which Israel can have its capital in West Jerusalem and Palestinians can have their capital in East Jerusalem. But by throwing this monkeywrench, the Americans are either trying to destroy the peace process or trying to dictate it. And either way, it will not work.

INSKEEP: You know, I hate to say it, but wasn't the deal pretty much already broken? There's really not much happening in the peace process.

KUTTAB: There wasn't. But this is going to put it even in a worse shape. I mean, Trump was talking about the ultimate deal and so on. But something like this - you know, last summer, we had a small problem with the Israelis about putting metal detectors. And lots of people, you know, protested on that. So this is going to really reignite the conflict.

There's going to have protests. People will die and injured - for what? - for just so that he can say to his Christian Zionist friends that I've done what I promised to do? I think it's basically irresponsible, naive to think that with a statement, you can change the whole, you know, trajectory of the Middle East.

INSKEEP: Well, you mentioned the metal detectors. Of course, that was a disputed shrine in the center of Jerusalem. Can I just ask, though, doesn't this announcement by President Trump just recognize reality? I mean, the Israeli government is there in Jerusalem, and any peace deal is going to give Israel most, a lot, maybe all of Jerusalem. I mean, that's just the way it's headed.

KUTTAB: That is not the way it's headed. It's headed toward - I mean, the U.S. is putting itself as arbitrator - as the side that's trying to meet with all sides and trying to make a deal. And if you're trying to make a deal, you cannot prejudge the result of the deal before you even start. And by doing this, you're actually ruining the deal.

Now, you know, unless the Americans are following Daniel Pipes' dreams of the Palestinians must surrender and accept that they've been defeated and that's the only way to have a peace agreement - that is not the way it's going to have a peace agreement. That's only going to add to the bloodshed and anger people for absolutely no results.

The America, the Europeans, the rest of the world are all against us. So this is the one, you know, the one country or even half a country deal that even many Israelis don't think is going to work. And as a result, we'll have people who are going to be angry. And there will be protests. There will be shootings. There will be killings. For what? Nothing is going to change by making this statement, except making people angry.

INSKEEP: You know, I'll note this is a headline from Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper - Palestinians declare three days of rage across West Bank. You just talked about shootings and killings. Do you have reason to believe that violence will be the response to this?

KUTTAB: I hope not. I'm a person who believes in nonviolence. And we were hoping to have a peace agreement. You know, the Americans are trying to do some kind of a shock and (unintelligible). You know, they we're going to try to force IDs on everybody against their will. And, you know, any deal in the world, if it doesn't really have justice and reality and the chance of people supporting it - it has to be a fair deal. But if you force something down everybody's throat, even if the leaders sign on to it, the people will not accept it. So what we're hoping for is a deal that everybody can accept.

Palestinians made major compromises at the Oslo agreement. The next step is the idea of a two-state solution. But if you force this against the will of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, the entire world is against this. The only ones who are supporting it are Christian Zionists. That's not a way to have real peace in the region.

INSKEEP: Daoud Kuttab, thank you very much.

KUTTAB: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: He's a Palestinian journalist who joined us by Skype. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.