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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/27/17

Playing the Jerusalem Card in Lebanon with deft Hypocrisy

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Not 20 minutes had passed following President Trump's outrageous "Capital offense" declaration recognizing all of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel when shouts were heard in parts of Lebanon of an arriving apocalypse. Some self-flagellations were observed in certain Shia quarters, predications of end of times spread as well as many calls for a Third Intifada to "liberate Jerusalem."

Ninety out of a hundred US Senators approved of Trump's statement. None voted against and the ten who abstained are well known hardened Trump detractors. The vote reflects the continuing strong pro- Israel sentiment among both fundamentalist and liberal Americans. On 12/15/2017, Trump administration officials also declared that Jerusalem's Western Wall is part of Israel, a declaration that will doubtless enflame more passions among Palestinians and others in the Middle East and globally.

As is well-known by now, every Arab country and more than 100 others have strongly condemned Trumps decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem despite weak sounding White House pledges to increase its support for the Palestinian cause. Mild protests from the EU, UK and many US allies also quickly followed. Egypt's UNSC draft resolution affirmed that any decisions on the status of Jerusalem were "null and void and must be rescinded", and urged all states to "refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the holy city" would have passed with 14 yea votes but for the American veto. A similar indictment of the Embassy move did pass the UN General Assembly under the Uniting for Peace resolution on 12/21/2017 with 128 states in favor, 35 abstaining and nine voting against.

It's quite likely that every 5th year Palestinian youngster in Lebanon's 12 camps knows that the United Nations partition plan drawn up in 1947 planed that Jerusalem would be a separate "international city." But the 1948 war that followed Israel's declaration of independence cut the city in two and as part of an Armistice, drawing with green ink on a map, the Green Line creating East and West Jerusalem. Israel controlled the western half, and Jordan controlled of the eastern half, including the Old City. In 1967 Israel took over all of Jerusalem and declared it to be its eternal undivided capital. And that's the cause of today's problem because it is claimed as the capital of Palestine.

Trump's moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, which hopefully will not survive the next Presidential election, has created much politically calculated hand wringing in Lebanon and this region and the manipulation of the struggle to make Jerusalem the capital of Palestine. Palestinian leaders are adamant that an embassy move to Jerusalem is a violation of international law, and a huge setback to the "peace process".

The first claim is accurate, certainly it's an egregious violation of international law which the UN must work to block with Security Council resolutions urging all countries to refrain from moving embassies to Jerusalem. With respect to the 'peace process' there is no such thing today and arguably there has never been a serious one.

For the past quarter century, American presidents, both Democrats and Republicans get secure more Jewish and Fundamentalist Christians, have declared Jerusalem to be Israel's capital and promised to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv.

In 1992, Bill Clinton declared, "Jerusalem is still the capital of Israel and must remain an undivided city accessible to all."

In 2000, entrenched in a tight race with Albert Gore, Clintons Vice President, George W. Bush promised: "As soon as I take my office I will begin the process of moving the United States Ambassador to the city Israel has chosen as its capital, Jerusalem."

During his 2008 election campaign, Barack Obama made an even stronger commitment to the Israeli position on Jerusalem than his predecessors declaring his support for Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, emphasizing that "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and must remain undivided."

Since Trumps announcement, plenty of anti-Palestinian politicians seeking to cash in politically, including Lebanese President, Michel Aoun who is only in that post because Iran installed him by instructing Hezbollah to break its deadlock of Parliament, are wringing their hands and seeking political advantages from Trumps provocative action.

Aoun, is widely known for his anti-Palestinian views and actions and is thought to care less about Jerusalem being the Palestinians capital, rather he just wants every Palestinian out of Lebanon, the sooner the better. And so do the Palestinians--they want to return to their homes in Palestine. One anti-Palestinian tactic Aoun regularly uses in many of his speeches is to insist that "Lebanon needs to be freed from the 600,000 Palestinians in our country who seek naturalization." Sometimes he uses the figure 500,000. Truth told, fewer than 175.000 Palestinians remain in Lebanon today and Aoun knows this. A just released census of Palestinians in Lebanon, the first counting every taken, confirms this. Tens of thousands have emigrated because by law, Lebanon bars them from the elementary civil rights to work or to own a home. Of those who remain very few would accept naturalization. The noted above first ever official census of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon was released on 12.21.2017, and it established that 174,422 Palestinian refugees are living in the country, much lower than anti-Palestinian politicians have been telling their followers that past few decades. The head count of Palestinians in Lebanon, called the Comprehensive Census of Population and Housing in Palestinian Camps and Gatherings in Lebanon, is a project of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee at the Grand Serail. More than 500 professional population surveyors crisscrossed Lebanon over the past two years to obtain an accurate count.

Also, being heard are renewed promises by the Hezbollah led "Resistance" that it will withdraw its forces fighting in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere and make Palestine its top priority, promising that if it is necessary Iran/Hezbollah will import Shia militia from across the region to help "liberate Al Quds." Shortly after Trumps declaration, Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah announced that his fighters would return from abroad and focus its fighting on behalf of Palestinians, since Hezbollah's fighters had already defeated its enemies in several other regional battles against Syrian "terrorists".

Addressing a 12/11/2017 rally in South Beirut via a video feed, Nasrallah declared "Jerusalem, Palestine and the Palestinian people will return to be the priorities" for Hezbollah, adding that the group would "dedicate all its time to Palestinian resistance."

Nasrallah's promise that the "Resistance" will dedicate all its time to Palestinians comes as good news to the Beirut-Washington DC based Palestine Civil Rights Campaign (PCRC) volunteers who have been pressing Hezbollah over the seven years in Syria to arrange 90 minutes of Parliaments time to grant the elementary civil right to work and to own a home for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Sixty of the minutes would be required to enact the right to work for Palestinians without Kafkaesque restrictions that prevent them from working and thirty minutes to repeal the 2001 racist law that criminalized home ownership for Palestinians in Lebanon.

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Since 2013, Professor Franklin P. Lamb has traveled extensively throughout Syria. His primary focus has been to document, photograph, research and hopefully help preserve the vast and irreplaceable archaeological sites and artifacts in (more...)

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