By Gloria Ekong
In the past weeks, the whole world has been thrown into confusion regarding the decision by the President of the United of America ,President Donald Trump to declare Jerusalem the capital of Isreal,followed by the rejection of the United Nation on Trump’s decision, thereby voting against it with the votes of 128 member country of the UN, of which United State is a member.
When the decision by Donald Trump was made public,and reported all over the media,i noticed the excitement, jubilation among some people, mostly Christians. As a Christian, there is this religious sentiments we all have,when issues concerning Christianity are brought to bear,without critically analysing some instances ,were some of such issues has to do with matters of historical concern.
On the argument currently trending and causing tension on the world politics ,between United State and the United Nation,one might think that as a Christian, I should joined the queue of those singing the praises of the United State President,but I can not,because the decision of Trump over Jerusalem is a bad decision and against international Law.
Sometimes I find it difficult to discuss issues related to Religion, because as a Historian,I am suppose to write and react objectively on issues,without being bias,as a result of religion,ethnic or social influence. Sadly, there is no objectivity in religion.
Back here in Nigeria, many people are criticizing the Nigerian government for voting against Trump decision over Jerusalem, but that was the right thing to do,because Nigeria as a member of the United Nation,one who had in 1989 occupied the position of the President of UN through the then representative, Joseph Nanven Garba,is well aware of the danger of a desperate, uncoordinated, hasty decision by Trump, who not too long ago,withdrew United States from UNESCO,with theory that US was spending too much on funding programs of the body,without proper message sent.
I liken the conflict between Isreal and Palestine over Jerusalem, to the land dispute between the people of Oku Iboku and Ikot Offiong, border communities of Itu in Akwa Ibom and Odukpani in Cross River States, Nigeria. The conflict which has lasted for so many years ,with renew attacks among these communities, usually resulting in the lost of lives,destruction of properties, with no permanent solution to the dispute.
A very significant thing concerning this communal crisis,that is giving the people hope of a possible solution , occurred on October this year, during the celebration of the 25th Jubilee of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. The Sixth Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly,under the Speakership of Rt. Hon. Barr. Onofiok Luke,during the 25th Jubilee inaugurated a Six man committee to look into the conflict between Oku Iboku and Ikot Offiong, aimed at bringing a lasting solution to area that has not known Peace for decades.
The decision which was made in a joint sitting of the Cross River and Akwa Ibom State Houses of Assembly was applauded by so many people, because the issues was presented not just as a community dispute, but as a crisis situation bothering on two states,who were once together,because anytime the Oku Iboku and Ikot Offiong resumes their usual boundary fights, the pressure is always on the State government.
For good ideas and true innovation, one needs human interaction, conflict, argument, debate,that is why the issues concerning matters that has strong link with international Law should be attended to carefully by all those involve and a peaceful resolution measures implemented. Conflict is good in a negotiation process,it is the clash of two ideas, which then, all being well, produces a third idea,which could bring peace and stability.
I keep thinking within myself, that the crisis between the Oku Iboku and Ikot Offiong people has been there even before I was born,how come neither has the Cross River or Akwa Ibom State Government declare the area as her own or divide it and rule.
While trying to search for answers,i went back to the history as regard international Law,because if any person or groups of person inhabit a particular area for more than 200years or so,that territory automatically becomes theirs. Hence, the people of Ikot offiong have a stake in the land they are occupying,because they lived and worked on palm wine tapping for so many years,though Oku iboku people insist the land is originally theirs.
Exactly the same situation that is happening with Isreal and Palestine over Jerusalem,while are insisting that they are the original owners of Jerusalem,the Palestine conquered the territory, reclaimed it,are always pressing on the ownership of Jerusalem. Meaning only peaceful coexistence can bring peace with the original owners of the area,and those that inhabited the area. According to Ronald Reagan ,Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.
People like to say that conflict is between good and evil,but to me,the real conflict is between truth and lies. The religious sentiment going on over Jerusalem and UN response is not necessary, but the truth of the matter is what will bring peace to this situation for a change or the statu quo remains. The people of Palestine have a stake in Jerusalem just like the Isreal does,so it will be very unfair for any person to say that that Isreal alone should take Jerusalem.
Let us consider something here, Abraham was the father of Ismael, that is today Islam,and also the father of Issac, and when he died,he was buried in Jerusalem, that is why Christians go to the tomb of Abraham to pray on pilgrimage . So Abraham was the father of Christians and Muslims, so trying to strip the Palestinian of their right of inheritance, is not just against morals attitude,but against International Law that can caused a war.
One interesting thing I discovered, is that the same building the the Jews goes to pray at Jerusalem on Saturdays, is the same building the Muslims also offer their prayers on Fridays,while Christians take their turn on Sundays. It is on record that the Israeli government provides security to guide the place,cleaners to clean the place after the prayer session of either of the religion, and they all take this building as the inheritance of their grandfather Abraham.
Looking at the Presidency of the United Nation since its formation in 1945,after endorsing the Atlantic Charter, no powerful member country has ever held the position as President. That i mean China, Russia, France,United Kingdom,as well as the United State. I think the reason for this must have been the fear of any powerful country to use the position to compel other members to take decisions at the UN that will cause a war than bring peace,of which was is the aim the organization was formed, after the failure of the LEAGUE OF NATION.
The action of US President, Donald Trump has confirmed this fear, because if the current President of UN, Miroslav Lajcak from Slovakia were to be a United State of America’s representative,he probably would have manipulated ,threatened the other members to support Trump’s decision, or risk US assistance ,and this would have been suicidal.
Before the formation of UN,the Sovereign equality of all nations was top on the agenda, the Quebec Conference in August 1943 ,where the then US Secretary of state Cordell Hull and British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden agreed on a draft for a general international organization, was to bring peace and create avenues to bring members to the table. So the fact that the Atlantic charter that formed the UN was signed in Washington,does not mean that US president can wake up one day ,and take a decision against the majority of the members,without proper negotiations.
After all the league of Nation that was formed in 1920 ,as a result of the Fourteen point agenda of the then US President, Woodrow Wilson was abandoned by the US,the same country that her President brought the idea aimed at bringing peace, through what was called ” a general association of nations, that is to show that,certain decision must be taken with proper negotiations.
Wile discussing my thought on this issue of Trump’s decision on Jerusalem with a friend,he opted to bring in the biblical argument of what Zechariah 12: 3 said ,saying that the prophesy of what was written is starting to manifest, and why he stands with Trump on his decision. So I had to open the bible portion and read it,but no mention of secession.
Zechariah 12:3 King James Version ”
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
After reading through this,our argument went on and on,at that point, i discovered that i was arguing as a historian,not just a Christian, because Christianity teaches us to love one another,and live in peace with our neighbours. Atleast I should have and express my on opinion on issues, base on my perspective,because that portion of bible did not mention that there will come a time that the US President shall declare Jerusalem the capital of Isreal.
Hence , I still hold my stand that the decision of Donald Trump over Jerusalem, the US candidate that I supported, when others were singing the praises of Hillary Clinton,is a bad one, and was done without due process, negotiations and disrespected the rule of law,as well as against the fundamental human right of those involve.
To this end,I suggest that the UN should set up a sub committee over Jerusalem, Isreal and Palestine, bring the united State to table, for a lasting solution to be reached on the area,because anything shot of this ,will create more problems in the system,and maybe viewed as an invitation to war. Trump should rescind his declaration regarding Jerusalem, sit with UN and draw up a proper negotiations plan,earnestly, this will be good for all involve.
I know United States has always supported Isreal, sometimes alone like it is happening now under Donald Trump,that explains why President Obama last year abstained, rather than veto a security council resolution condemning Israel’s West Bank settlement.
I don’t want to take what I read that Ambassador Nikki Haley said,regarding the plan by US to cut off aid to countries who voted against Trump’s decision, because I know it is not possible. Can United States at this time cut aide to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt ,Iraq? I doubt it.
I know Isreal is a strong country, but if Donald Trump really wants to help Isreal,he should do something about the Iranian threat.
Gloria Ekong is a Historian writes from Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.