As the shock over Donald Trump's election to the presidency of the United States attests, his victory could not have been anticipated. Similarly, it could not have reasonably been anticipated that he of all persons would focus attention on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the status of Jerusalem before he was even sworn into office. Trump's personal history raises the specter of the ultimate cruelties predicted in the closing verses of Rev. 13, and this is underscored by the commitment of his vice-president to Dominionists theocracy. Given that Palestine, and Jerusalem in particular, are central to the next great prophecy of the end awaiting fulfillment, Trump's interest in the complex Arab-Israeli question and the status of Jerusalem commands attention. Is his intervention likely to cause widespread upheaval and massive obstruction of a settlement? On the other hand, could it trigger events that force an end to the present impasse in the peace process? Is it going to further delay progress towards the objective of a Vatican presence in Jerusalem or cause international intervention to force a conclusion in Rome's favor? Donald Trump is promising to dive into a diplomatic quagmire which appears to have stymied the Vatican and the US government alike:-


It was in February, 2014, that this promising report on Vatican-Israeli negotiations was published:

‘Thoughtful and constructive’ meeting between Vatican, Israeli diplomats

Representatives of the Holy See and the State of Israel met in Jerusalem on February 11 to continue negotiating a diplomatic accord establishing the legal and economic rights of Church institutions in the Holy Land.

Noting that only a few issues remain, both parties issued a joint statement in which they “took note of the progress achieved, in a thoughtful and constructive atmosphere, since the last plenary of June 2013.”

The parties are scheduled to meet again at the Vatican in June.

The June meeting did not take place, and no further plenary meetings were held up to the end of 2016. There had been no significant evidence of progress in Vatican-Israeli negotiations published after early 2014; but there were regular meetings of the working group:

Israel’s new ambassador to the Holy see presents credentials. Regional cooperation ministry announces new initiatives

And finally, he mentioned the forthcoming colloquium of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel due to meet in Jerusalem November 7. Ever since the Fundamental Agreement was signed December 30, 1993 this Commission has been meeting at least twice a year in Rome and Jerusalem, but as yet, certain aspects of the Agreement’s practical applications have not reached a consensus on both sides. “Our government is optimistic and determined that the remaining technical issues still being negotiated by both parties will be resolved this time, with a definitive signature, before the end of 2016. The Israeli government would really like to see this process completed.”

Now, in January, 2017, a meeting in plenary session has been held:

Bilateral Commission between Vatican and Israel holds new meeting

A meeting took place today, 18 January, in Jerusalem, as part of the long negotiation process, which continues "in a thoughtful and constructive atmosphere”

The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel held new plenary meeting today, 18 January 2017, in Jerusalem, the Vatican says in a statement. It was held in order “to continue negotiations pursuant to the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel of 1993, Art. 10 paragraph 2”. As is known, the Holy See and the State of Israel have been engaged in a decades-long negotiation process regarding the legal status of the Catholic Church as well as fiscal questions. The meeting was chaired by Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s Minister for Regional Cooperation and Mgr. Antoine Camilleri, Vatican Undersecretary for Relations with States. The statement adds: “The Plenary welcomed the progress accomplished at the working level regarding the negotiations pursuant to Art. 10 paragraph 2, and is pleased that they continue in a thoughtful and constructive atmosphere. The Plenary further acknowledges the work of the Ministry of Justice regarding the implementation of the 1997 Bilateral Legal Personality Agreement.” The Vatican and Israel “have agreed on future steps, in view of the next Plenary meeting scheduled for March 2017, in Vatican City”. After the commission’s meeting, the Holy See and the State of Israel held a bilateral consultation session at the ministry of foreign affairs, where “the delegations discussed “matters of common interest and explored new opportunities for cooperation”.

Israel and Holy See officials meet in Jerusalem

Israel/Catholic bilateral commission meets at plenary level in Jerusalem; next meeting to be held in Vatican City.

Aware of the need to normalize relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people, the Holy See and Israel decided in 1992 to establish a commission to examine issues of common interest.

This so-called Bilateral Permanent Working Commission met again yesterday in Jerusalem to continue negotiations pursuant to the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel of 1993.

The agreement between the Holy See and Israel is a treaty signed on 30 December 1993. The agreement deals with the property rights and tax exemptions of the Roman Catholic Church within Israeli territory. It did not resolve all issues, and the parties continue to meet in an attempt to resolve outstanding problems.

This new plenary meeting raises interesting questions. Is it reflective of anxiety on the part of the Vatican over actions that the Trump administration is about to take? The Netanyahu government would not share that anxiety.

The meeting might suggest that progress has been made between the parties over the last three years; however, the following reports suggest that Rome's expansive view of the ultimate objective is a major stumbling block:

Holy See-Israel: painstaking resumption of negotiations

Deliberations of the Holy See-Israel bilateral commission are set to resume today in Jerusalem after being stalled for a long time. The resumption, permitted by the Olmert government, has raised hopes even in the Vatican that the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel that dates back to the distant 1993, may finally be implemented. . .

Asia News asked the Honorable Oded Ben Hur, Israeli ambassador to the Holy See, why the process has been riddled with delays and difficulties.

The ambassador said the difficulties could be attributed to the fact that the Catholic Church believes these accords should be considered as international treaties and absorbed as such into Israeli law. In Israel, there is unwillingness to accept these accords as a proper international treaty whose norms are not liable to unilateral changes by the Israeli legislator. For Israel, it seems, there can no international treaties that could condition the exercise of national legislative power.

Holy See-Israel delegation speeds up work ahead of pope's visit to Holy Land

The next round of meetings has been scheduled: four in just three months, after years of inaction. The date of the plenary assembly has been moved up, and everything will be completed before May of 2009, when Benedict XVI is expected to arrive in the Holy Land.

The permanent bilateral commission between the Holy See and the state of Israel today concluded its plenary meeting at the foreign ministry in Jerusalem, and decided on a packed schedule of meetings, leading to hopes that some conclusion might be reached before the probable visit of Benedict XVI to the Holy Land in May of 2009.

In the statement released at the end of today's meeting, it is affirmed that "the working-level Commission will hold meetings on 15 January, 18 February, 5 March and 26 March." This is rather unusual, if one considers that the dialogue has been proceeding at a very slow pace for about 10 years, and for almost 5 years (from 2002-2007) has been at a halt. . .

Whatever may have been happening behind the scenes in the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission over the three-year period between February, 2014, and January, 2017, Jewish religious leaders have sung the praises of Pope Francis (cf. Religious leaders in Palestine . . . ) Simultaneously, this has been accompanied by a process of improving relations with the Palestinians (cf. In the wake of the fallout . . . ; The Israeli government may yet voluntarily make concessions . . . " However, the Israeli right-wing government posture has been to make a peace settlement more difficult (cf. The devils know the prophecies . . . ) Compounding the seemingly intractable problem is the involvement of America's Christian Zionists; (cf. This concise definition of “Christian Zionism . . .  in the Jewish Virtual Library)

The last attempt of the United States to broker a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israelis failed in April, 2014 after nine months of negotiations; (cf. The Explosive, Inside Story of How John Kerry Built an Israel-Palestine Peace Plan—and Watched It Crumble for a comprehensive history of the difficulties and complexities.)


Into this complicated impasse Donald Trump is making his entrance in a manner that conjures up the metaphor of a bull in a china shop:-

Trump aide on moving US Embassy to Jerusalem: 'A top priority'

US President-elect Donald Trump top aide, Kellyanne Conway, clarifies during radio interview that Trump still intends to transfer US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as he promised to do during his campaign.

Though he has refrained from making many public statements on the matter since his election, US President-elect Donald Trump's senior aide Kellyanne Conway reiterated his plan to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Speaking to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt about moving the embassy to Jerusalem on Monday, Conway said, "That is very big priority for this president-elect, Donald Trump. He made it very clear during the campaign, Hugh, and as president-elect I've heard him repeat it several times privately, if not publicly.”

While former US presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush reneged on their own statements to move the embassy to Israel's capital after they had become presidents, Conway believes Trump will follow through on his promise.

“It is something that our friend in Israel, a great friend in the Middle East, would appreciate and something that a lot of Jewish-Americans have expressed their preference for," she said. "It is a great move. It is an easy move to do based on how much he talked about that in the debates and in the sound bites.”

How simple Trump's aide makes it sound! Trump and his current advisers seem to follow their own counsel and ignore sober analysis and legitimate warnings:

Trump has 'every intention' of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders hail election of Donald Trump, whose campaign promises would overturn decades of US foreign policy

Israeli government ministers and political figures are pushing the US president-elect, Donald Trump, to quickly fulfill his campaign promise to overturn decades of US foreign policy and recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv.

Their calls came as one of Trump’s advisers on Israel and the Middle East, David Friedman, told the Jerusalem Post that Trump would follow through on his promise.

‘It was a campaign promise and there is every intention to keep it,” Friedman said. ‘We are going to see a very different relationship between America and Israel in a positive way.”

Other political figures – including Israel’s controversial far-right education minister, Naftali Bennett – went further, suggesting that Trump’s election should signal the end of the two-state solution and aspirations for a Palestinian state. . .

The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians see Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while the Israelis call the entire city their eternal indivisible capital.

Will Trump move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem?

'It’s hard to come up with a single act that would make the Middle East burn more than it is burning right now,' a former peace negotiator says.

Donald Trump wasn’t the first winning candidate to call for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, but unlike previous presidents, he just might keep his promise.

Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush made similar pledges during their campaigns, only to backpedal once in the Oval Office -- sobered by the potential for diplomatic blowback across the Arab world.

But Trump has done what few of his predecessors have: emphasize the issue loudly and proudly afterwards. His campaign adviser on Israel, Jason Greenblatt, told Israel’s Army radio in a post-election interview that Trump was “going to do it,” and his campaign manager on Monday called the move “a very big priority for this president elect.” . . .

Thanks to a law signed by Bill Clinton, Trump will face a decision on whether to move the embassy within his first six months in office. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 mandates that the U.S. Embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or risk a massive cut in State Department funding, but allows the president to postpone the move for reasons of national security.

Since the law’s passage, successive presidents have issued such a waiver every six months. The most recent one, signed by Obama on Dec. 1, expires in May 2017, meaning it will be up to Trump to decide the embassy’s fate.

During the campaign, Trump repeatedly promised to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem, naming it the “eternal capital of the Jewish people” in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. But on other occasions, he also indicated he wanted to be a neutral arbiter between Israelis and Palestinians, and has floated his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is Jewish, as some sort of peace envoy. . .

Those who’ve worked on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations say that moving the embassy would effectively kill the peace process.

“It would essentially validate the view that all of Jerusalem now belongs to Israel,” said Aaron David Miller, a former peace negotiator and scholar at the Wilson Center.

Even if negotiations were to proceed, the decision could undermine Trump’s wish to be a neutral arbiter.

“A U.S. administration would be seriously harming its potential role, as it has historically played, as a so-called ‘honest broker’ between the Israelis and the Arabs,” said Edward Djerejian, the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and ambassador to Israel under the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations.

The status of Jerusalem, particularly East Jerusalem, is fervently contested in the international community. The United Nations intended the eastern portion of the ancient city to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. In 1967, Israel annexed the entire city.

In 1980, the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, passed a law that declared, “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.” The U.N. Security Council condemned the move as a violation of international law, with the United States abstaining.

The majority of U.N. member states do not recognize Israel’s claim over the entire city as the capital. As a result, no country has its main diplomatic mission located in Jerusalem, with their embassies instead located in Tel Aviv and its suburbs. The United States maintains a consulate in Jerusalem that focuses on Palestinian issues.

Will Donald Trump, like Bill Clinton and George Bush who "made similar pledges during their campaigns, only to backpedal once in the Oval Office [be] sobered by the potential for diplomatic blowback across the Arab world"? A preview of the diplomatic blowback has already been given by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem:

US embassy Jerusalem move 'assault' on Muslims: mufti

Muhammed Hussein says in sermon at Al-Aqsa that the proposed relocation by US President-elect Donald Trump is an aggression on all Muslims and Arabs, not just on Palestinians.

Jerusalem's Grand Mufti on Friday branded plans by President-elect Donald Trump to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem an "assault" on Muslims across the globe.

"The pledge to move the embassy is not just an assault against Palestinians but against Arabs and Muslims, who will not remain silent," Muhammad Hussein said in a sermon at Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City. On Tuesday, Palestinian leaders called for Friday prayers at mosques across the Middle East this week to protest Trump's campaign pledge.

There have been warnings that the move would constitute recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and could inflame tensions in the Middle East and possibly sink what remains of peace efforts. "The transfer of the embassy violates international charters and norms which recognize Jerusalem as an occupied city," Hussein said in his sermon, avoiding mentioning Trump by name. The Palestinians regard east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel proclaims the entire city as its capital. The city's status is one of the thorniest issues of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel conquered the West Bank and east Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967 in the Six-Day War. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has also added his voice in warning against the Trump proposal; and it may be significant that he spoke while at the Vatican to open a Palestinian embassy. It is easy to deduce the position of the Vatican. Trump threatens to provoke the ire of the Vatican by his promised embassy move. It is reasonable to make this deduction from the place and circumstances of President Abbas' statement:

Abbas warns over Trump US Israel embassy move

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas warned Saturday that moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would deal a huge blow to hopes for Middle East peace.

Commenting as he opened a Palestinian embassy at the Vatican, Abbas added that anything which legitimised the "illegal Israeli annexation" of Jerusalem would "bury the hopes for a two-state solution, and fuel extremism in our region".

The Palestinian leader held a private meeting with Pope Francis before inaugurating the diplomatic mission, located in a building facing the Vatican that also houses the embassies of Peru and Burkina Faso. . .

In a separate English-language statement, he hailed the Vatican's hosting of a Palestinian embassy.

"We are very grateful about the role that the Holy See has played for a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land, and for having opened an embassy of Palestine in the Vatican for first time," he said.

But Abbas expressed concern about Trump's pledge during the election campaign to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the American embassy there.

- 'Fuel extremism' -

Such a step would be a historic break with US policy, and with most of the international community, over the status of Jerusalem, also claimed by the Palestinians as capital of their future state, an issue to be settled by negotiation.

"Any attempts at legitimising the illegal Israeli annexation of the city will destroy the prospects of any political process, bury the hopes for a two-state solution, and fuel extremism in our region, as well as worldwide," Abbas said.

Donald Trump is in opposition to the papacy's aspirations in Palestine and Jerusalem simply by his reliance on the support of Religious Right forces which favor the incorporation of the West Bank into the State of Israel:

‘Onward Christian Zionists’: Trump, Israel and the Inauguration

While US support for Israel has never been stronger (witness the 38 billion dollar aid package signed by the president in December) the perception among many in the US and Israel is that the Obama administration has been inimical to Israel’s best interests, and that the Trump team will be more ‘pro-Israel’ than any preceding administration. If the inauguration plans are any indication, ‘Israel advocates’ will be front and center at the inauguration and throughout Trump’s presidency.

To some extent the differences between Obama and Trump on Israel are matters of rhetoric and style. While Democrats, having recognized and solidly backed Israel since the days of Harry Truman –and having developed the ‘special relationship’ (his words) under Jack Kennedy–speak of Israel in terms diplomatic and contractual, recent Republican administrations, influenced by the Christian Right, speak of Israel in terms tinged with religiosity.

Thus David M. Friedman, Trump’s choice for the next ambassador to Israel, referred recently to Jerusalem as “Israel’s eternal capital “–a phrase popularized by Netanyahu and his government officials. Hearing this from a man soon to be an American diplomat, I wondered whether the Trump appointee to the Quai D’orsay will refer to Paris as ” France’s eternal capital.”

In Washington a ‘biblical ‘ view of Israel has been developing for decades and I expect that pronouncements issuing from the new team at the White House will reflect this rhetorical trend. In the early 1980s, with the rise of the so-called “Moral Majority” and the election of Ronald Reagan, political rhetoric about Israel and the Middle East became tinged with scriptural references. Reagan spoke of ‘ Armageddon’ in more that one address, and according to historian Michael Oren (later Israeli ambassador to Washington) “Reagan in fact revered Israel…Raised in the restorationist-minded Disciples of Christ church and closely associated with pro-Zionist American evangelicals, he was religiously attached to Israel.”

And in case Reagan and his Republican successors slipped in their commitment to “biblical” Israel, and to the Israeli Right’s vision of a “Greater Israel “that included the disputed Palestinian territories, Falwell and his Religious Right colleagues were sure to remind them–and in tones that were themselves quite biblical. In 1982 Jerry Falwell told Ronald Reagan that the president had to be supportive of Israel and its policies. Why? “Because God’s attitude toward the nations is dictated by the nations attitude toward Israel.” Jerry Falwell died in 2007, but his son Jerry Falwell Jr, can be counted on to remind Trump of his responsibilities.

And while Trump actual opinions on any issue remain a mystery (an ‘eternal mystery‘ perhaps) the political and social opinions of the Vice President-elect , Mike Pence, are well known. Especially when it comes to the US relationship to Israel. He has dubbed Israel “our most cherished ally.” . . .

Moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem flies in the face of long-established Vatican policy.

The Vatican has also clearly signaled opposition to Donald Trump's Jerusalem plan at the time of Abbas' visit:

Pope meets Palestinian leader; Vatican calls Jerusalem holy:

The Vatican stressed the sacred nature of Jerusalem on Saturday as the Palestinian leader warned that prospects for peace could suffer if the incoming Trump administration goes ahead with plans to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The developments came as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Pope Francis and inaugurated the Palestinian embassy to the Holy See. . .

The Vatican has long sought an internationally guaranteed status for Jerusalem that safeguards its sacred character. In its communique after the Abbas meeting, the Holy See didn't refer to Jerusalem by name but said during the talks "emphasis was placed on the importance of safeguarding the sanctity of the holy places for believers of all three of the Abrahamic religions." . . .

During the meeting, Abbas presented Francis with gifts recalling Christianity's birthplace in the Holy Land, including a stone from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and documentation about the ongoing restoration of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

The following report provides insight into the clever political maneuvering of the Vatican in Palestine:

What’s behind Pope Francis’ meeting with the Palestinian president

Pope Francis' private audience with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas this Jan. 14 will be a delicate diplomatic moment for the Holy See. Mahmoud Abbas heads to Rome to inaugurate the new Palestinian embassy to the Holy See, one year after the Holy See-Palestine agreement took effect and made official the Holy See's recognition of the State of Palestine.

This visit will prove how Vatican diplomacy is able to walk a thin line. The Holy See is in dialogue with both Palestine and Israel. It has been criticized by the Israeli state for the recognition of the State of Palestine that was part of the comprehensive agreement.

However, it would be wrong to think that the Holy See's position is imbalanced. At a recent Catholic-Jewish joint meeting, the Holy See backed a final document that implicitly criticized a UNESCO resolution that failed to call by their Hebrew names some of the most sacred places of Jerusalem, like Temple Mount.

At root, the Holy See does not officially take any stance for one party or the other. Rather, it looks attentively to the events in the Holy Land and advocates for a peaceful solution of the conflict.

Yet in his speech delivered to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See Jan. 9, Pope Francis underscored that the Holy See renewed its urgent appeal for the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians towards “a stable and enduring solution that guarantees the peaceful coexistence of two states within internationally recognized borders.”

A Middle East peace conference just ended has also weighed in against Donald Trump's plan:


Just five days before Trump is sworn in, the conference provides a platform for countries to send a strong signal to the incoming American president.

French President Francois Hollande signaled to US President-elect Donald Trump on Sunday that a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians is the only solution. Paris has warned him that plans to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem could derail peace efforts.

Some 70 countries, including key European and Arab states as well as the permanent members of the UN Security Council, gathered in Paris in the presence of US State Secretary John Kerry and the European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, among others.

Hollande said in his opening speech that the summit was "a warning".

"Because the two-state solution, the one upon which the international community agreed, and this for several years, appears threatened."

But, just five days before Trump is sworn in, the conference provides a platform for countries to send a strong signal to the incoming American president.

Trump has pledged to pursue more pro-Israeli policies and move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv, where it has been for 68 years, to Jerusalem, all but enshrining the city as Israel's capital despite international objections.

Hollande said there was no going back on the 1993 Oslo peace accords that were meant yield a two-state solution. . .

It is interesting to note that the Oslo Peace Accord and the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel were reached in the same year of 1993 - the Peace Accord signed in September, and the Fundamental Agreement in December. This underscores how the two are inextricably connected.

In the context of world politics, Donald Trump's promised impetuous action is clearly causing widespread alarm. It is highly unlikely that he begins to understand the geopolitical and religiopolitical complexities of the Middle East which impact on the Arab-Israeli conflict in Palestine (cf. Geopolitical Dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict;. The Middle East conflict—a brief background; The Israel-Palestine conflict is not just about land. It’s a bitter religious war.)

The inauguration of Trump threatens, and perhaps promises, chaos: Only one week left until President Trump. Buckle up (article dated 1/14/17) - "the impending Trump presidency will almost certainly be complete chaos." Also, note the significance of this analysis: What The Trump Era Will Feel Like: Clues From Populist Regimes Around The World.

If Donald Trump carries out his declared plan to pursue more pro-Israeli policies including the proposed moving of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, he will be flying in the face of the almost universal policy of Western nations and the interests of the Vatican:

The controversial sovereignty over the city of Jerusalem

No U.S. president has ever officially acknowledged Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem since the state of Israel was first recognized by President Harry Truman in 1948. The United States, along with most of the international community, has taken the position that no country has sovereignty over Jerusalem until its status is negotiated in a Middle East peace deal.

Israel's supporters in Congress, however, have repeatedly tried to force a different policy, first seeking to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem through the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 and then mandating that the State Department allow U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their place of birth in 2002. . .

The refusal to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli territory is a near universal policy among Western nations. Since the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, three U.S. presidents have declared that Jerusalem's final status can only be determined through Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. At any time since 1948, a president could have moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. None has. . .

A dozen U.S. interests far more important than the country of origin Americans want stamped on their passports would be seriously damaged by a shift in American policy on Jerusalem. They include U.S. credibility on the world stage and its relations with a quarter of a billion Arabs and 1.6 billion Muslims, almost a quarter of the world's population.

Recognizing Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem would also be a powerful recruitment tool for terrorist groups such as the Islamic State group, which is adept in recruiting fighters worldwide to its murderous cause. It would likewise seriously undermine international law, which is very specific on the territorial status of East Jerusalem. . .

The only solution for Jerusalem, as opposed to the fantasies of Israeli expansionists, is through political negotiations to share the city politically between Israel and a future Palestinian state with open and unimpeded access guaranteed for all faiths to their holy places.

Writing in the U.S. Jewish weekly Forward, Jay Michaelson explained how claims of sovereignty over Jerusalem are part of a larger pattern of Israeli expulsion of Palestinians and expansion of Israeli control of the Palestinian West Bank: "The current Israeli definition of 'united Jerusalem' is now used to justify home demolitions, land confiscation, and an expansion of municipal boundaries that now stretches the city (and the imagination) from Ramallah to the Judean Desert." He concludes, "That is exactly the 'Jerusalem' that should not be recognized by international law."

No amount of insisting that all of Jerusalem is Israel's "undivided and eternal capital" will change the reality that it never will be. It is only when Palestinian-Americans born in Jerusalem can get their passports to read "Jerusalem, Palestine" that equal recognition should be given to Israeli-Americans born in Jerusalem, too. [Jesuit Fr. Drew Christiansen, a professor of ethics at Georgetown University, was co-author of this article.]

The Church of Rome has an objective for Jerusalem, and this is revealed in the prophetic word. The identification of the papacy as the "he" of Daniel 11:45, is logical. The prophecy predicting the establishment of a papal presence in Jerusalem is certain, verified by longstanding Vatican policy:

Vatican policy promotes access to Jerusalem, self-determination for all

The Vatican's hopes for a peace-filled world and its defence of the right to religious freedom have supported its consistent position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for 70 years.

The key concern of the Holy See, and of the Catholic Church as a whole, since the Middle Ages has been for the Christian holy sites and Christian communities present in the Holy Land from the time of Jesus. The vast majority of Christians in the region are Palestinians.

More recently, it has supported the "two-state solution" with independence, recognition and secure borders for both Israel and Palestine.

While support for the two-state system evolved over time, the Vatican consistently has called for a special status for Jerusalem, particularly the Old City, in order to protect and guarantee access to the holy sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

As Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations, told the U.N. General Assembly in November: "The Holy See views the holy city of Jerusalem as the spiritual patrimony of the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam."

Since the early 1990s, the Vatican has seen as separate issues the need for a special status for the city and questions over the political sovereignty or control of Jerusalem. The political question, it has insisted, must be the result of negotiation.

The internationally unsettled status of Jerusalem and its central importance to Jews, Muslims and Christians explains why, while recognizing the state of Israel, no nation has its embassy in the holy city.

Before his inauguration, President-elect Donald Trump said he would move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush said the same thing during their campaigns for election, although once in office, they did not carry through with the move, citing its potential negative impact on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. . .

Some observers think Trump is more serious about having the embassy in Jerusalem.

"At this point we are in a wait-and-see pattern," said Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, who was in Jerusalem in mid-January together with 12 other bishops from North America and Europe.

Bishop Cantu, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, told Catholic News Service that Trump's promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem poses a "serious problem" to any possible two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"We are hoping that other, clearer minds will convince the president-elect to change his mind," he said, promising the U.S. bishops would engage with the new administration in "as friendly a way as possible."

"We will share with him our concerns based on the dignity of every human person and also based on the rights of the Palestinians to exist as a free and sovereign state living in peace next to a free and sovereign Israel," Bishop Cantu said.


There is an existing tense stand-off between Western nations in agreement with the Vatican and the Jewish and Christian Zionists of Israel and the United States. Donald Trump threatens to cause the stand-off to flare up into a conflagration which will not be confined to the Middle East (think of the aid to terrorist recruitment in the Muslim world.) This would obviously not be conducive to a peaceful settlement of Palestine-Israeli conflict and a resolution to what already seems to be an intractable problem of sovereignty over Jerusalem. This raises the question: how will the process of fulfillment of Daniel 11:45 proceed? Here the counsel of James White needs to be followed:

"Fulfilled prophecy may be understood by the Bible student. Prophecy is history in advance. He can compare history with prophecy and find a complete fit as the glove to the hand, it having been made for it. But in exposition of unfulfilled prophecy, where the history is not written, the student should put forth his propositions with not too much positiveness, lest he find himself straying in the field of fancy. . . . Positions taken upon the Eastern question are based upon prophecies which have not yet their fulfillment. Here we should tread lightly, and take positions carefully, lest we be found removing the landmarks fully established in the advent movement."—Review and Herald, Nov. 29, 1877.


We can be sure that a specific prophecy will be fulfilled; and with sanctified judgment know when it has been fulfilled, by which our faith is confirmed (cf. John 13:19.) By sound exegesis the ultimate event can be identified; but how it will be fulfilled cannot be predicted. In the case of Daniel 11:45 the Vatican and world powers may be able to find the way forward through confrontation and conflict. On the other hand it may require the intervention of the false Christ promising peace. What the current murky conditions emphasize is that it is absolutely essential to "watch," as Jesus Himself repeatedly admonished his followers to do, Luke 21:34-36 being one instance of this admonition.