Jonathan is right the president’s policies on Jerusalem are not going to bring anyone closer to a peace agreement, and in fact they only muddy the waters. But there’s an extra dose of irony in all this. As Daniel Halper reports, the State Department released a statement today reaffirming their official position that they have no idea what this thing called “Jerusalem” is or where it might be found. In a follow-up post, Halper shows that after his blog post made the rounds, the White House scrubbed the word “Israel” from photographs that used to read “Jerusalem, Israel.”
This is pure amateur hour at this point. Is the president so stubborn he will scrub all references to Jerusalem being in Israel from the public record just to be consistent with a separate but equally asinine policy? Additionally, while the president certainly does seem within his rights to decide “Jerusalem, Israel” cannot be put on U.S. passports, the decision not to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the parts of Jerusalem no one disputes only encourages more building in the city.
The truth is, if the American government recognized part of Jerusalem as Israeli, they would be able to exert far more control over Israeli policy in the city. The reason is simple: right now, the American policy is that the city is up for grabs–it belongs to no one (and everyone!). If you were an Israeli official, what would you suggest be done? If you were an Arab who wanted part of the city to be put in the hands of the Palestinian Authority, what would you do? The answer is the same in both cases: build, as much and as fast as you can.
Like so many of the administration’s attempts at “evenhandedness,” it only results in less cooperation from both sides. The administration and its defenders may believe their policy on Jerusalem is–like their policy on the settlement freeze–the “right thing to do.” But they cannot deny that in practice it quite predictably falls apart. The administration doesn’t want anyone to claim authority over the city. This is the definition of–and a recipe for–anarchy.
If the administration continues to refute any and all recognition of sovereignty over the city, Israel is going to naturally demonstrate that anarchy does not, in fact, reign in Jerusalem.