By Zahra Sadat Khezri

Trump’s crude move may further weaken U.S., Israel: Sydney prof.

January 2, 2018

Tim Anderson says the Saud regime has moved closer than ever to Israel during its failing wars on multiple Arab countries.

Tim Anderson, a senior lecturer in political economy at the University of Sydney, is under impression that Trump's crude move to recognize al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of Israel may further undermine the status of the Zionist regime and the U.S. in West Asia.
“It seems likely that this crude move may cause a reaction which will further undermine the position of both Israel and the U.S. in the region,” Anderson tells the Tehran Times.

Following is the full transcript of the interview:
Q: What‘s your take on the repercussion of U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital?

A: It seems that, on the surface, Trump intended this as a gesture of support to Israel, supposedly strengthening its hand against an independent Palestine. However it seems likely that this crude move may cause a reaction which will further undermine the position of both Israel and the U.S. in the region.

Q: In your view, how can international leaders' condemnations affect Trump’s move?

A: None of those statements are likely to affect Trump’s move. Remember that the U.S. has a 1995 law which requires the U.S. Embassy to be in Jerusalem, and that when a vote was taken on this matter in the U.S. Senate in June this year, not a single U.S. Senator opposed the move (10 abstained, 90 supported the move). So this is not just about Trump. Nevertheless, building an international consensus on the status of al Quds remains important, as this will (1) reaffirm international law in relation to Jerusalem / al Quds, (2) further isolate Israel and the U.S., and (3) build the international consensus in favor of an independent Palestine.

Q: What’s your assessment of Arab and Muslim leaders’ stance on Trump’s decision?

Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem has been U.S. law for 22 years, but previous presidents have held off for diplomatic reasons – mainly not wanting to further damage their credibility with the Arab and Muslim world; to some extent also to maintain their decades-long status in Europe as an ‘honest broker’ for peace in the Middle East. Trump is showing himself reckless over these considerations.A: With notable exceptions, there was a weak response. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an did use the opportunity, at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit, to call for the world to recognize al Quds as the capital of a Palestinian state. However, by his double dealings with Israel, Europe and Saudi Arabia, and from his backing for sectarian terrorism in Syria, Erdo?an has done substantial damage to his own reputation, and to that of Turkey. Turkey cannot credibly emerge as a moral leader on this issue.

Q: Some believe Trump's decision puts an end to the proposal for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What is your analysis?

A: We cannot discount the fact that the Palestinian people are weary of the constant repression and ethnic cleansing. A large number, perhaps half according to recent polls, may want some sort of imperfect accommodation, rather than endless war. However Israel undermined the basis for a viable Palestinian ‘second state’ a long time ago, and the dominant Zionists are making it clear there are few limits to their ethnic cleansing ambitions. The Trump move tends to support the idea that only a democratic Palestine can be the credible long term solution, and that must mean dismantling the apartheid state.


Q: In your opinion, will Saudi Arabia, a regional U.S. ally, stand against Trump's decision since the House of Saud has called the move "unjustified” and “irresponsible”?

A: The words are correct but this is pure rhetoric. The Saud regime has moved closer than ever to Israel during its failing wars on multiple Arab countries, as also through the obsession it shares with Israel over the future role of Iran. Of all Middle East regimes, al Saud has the least will or intention to challenge the Zionist state. Even if al Saud was not moving closer to Israel, Riyadh’s political dependence on the U.S. makes it impotent. Oil money can’t compensate for these deficiencies.


Q: What prompted Trump to make such a decision at this critical juncture when, more than ever before, the Middle East struggles for peace?

A: I suspect domestic political concerns have as much to do with the Trump decision as anything else. That and, perhaps, deflecting from its recent failures of influence in Syria and Iraq. Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem has been U.S. law for 22 years, but previous presidents have held off for diplomatic reasons – mainly not wanting to further damage their credibility with the Arab and Muslim world; to some extent also to maintain their decades-long status in Europe as an ‘honest broker’ for peace in the Middle East. Trump is showing himself reckless over these considerations. At the same time, the Trump administration has been unable to present a coherent and consistent foreign policy. Yet Trump is very concerned with trying to defend himself from internal attacks (e.g. the ‘Russiagate’ storm, which currently obsesses the U.S.), creating moves to deflect attacks from powerful domestic critics. So we see these occasional, largely symbolic moves, like the missile attack on Syria’s Shayrat airbase earlier this year, and now the statement about Jerusalem / al Quds. To the extent that the statement on Jerusalem is motivated by domestic concerns, we might expect more inconsistency. Trump has shown he is quite capable of saying one thing and doing another.

With notable exceptions, there was a weak response to Trump’s move on al-Quds in the Islamic world.
Q: Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, called the UN drafted resolution for withdrawing the decision an “insult” and indirectly threatened all UN Security Council members that endorsed the draft resolution. How do you assess such approach?

A: Ambassador Haley’s statement was an arrogant move which will help further isolate Washington in Middle East affairs.

Q: Netanyahu praised the U.S. for vetoing the resolution, tweeting: “Thank you, Ambassador Haley. On Hanukkah, you spoke like a Maccabi. You lit a candle of truth. You dispel the darkness. One defeated the many. Truth defeated lies. Thank you, President Trump.” “You cast light on truth”. How do you interpret such comments?

A: The Zionist leader’s fawning praise for the very mediocre Ambassador Nikki Haley exposes Israel’s dependence on U.S. patronage, in efforts to sustain its own legitimacy. But attempts to legitimize colonization and ethnic cleansing cannot stand, in the 21st century.