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Friday, June 2, 2017

Poster in Jerusalem, January


I'm willing to give a new president some slack, but the White House statement justifying breaking Donald Trump's promise to move the American embassy to Jerusalem is grating:

While President Donald J. Trump signed the waiver under the Jerusalem Embassy Act and delayed moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the President's strong support for Israel and for the United States-Israel alliance.  President Trump made this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America's national security interests.  But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when.
 The highlighted sentences are contradictory. Is his repeated promises to move the embassy dependent on Palestinian acquiescence, as the first sentence implies, or not, as the second one says?

Here's the full context of Trump's promise at AIPAC:
President Obama thinks that applying pressure to Israel will force the issue. But it’s precisely the opposite that happens. Already half of the population of Palestine has been taken over by the Palestinian ISIS and Hamas, and the other half refuses to confront the first half, so it’s a very difficult situation that’s never going to get solved unless you have great leadership right here in the United States.

We’ll get it solved. One way or the other, we will get it solved.

But when the United States stands with Israel, the chances of peace really rise and rises exponentially. That’s what will happen when Donald Trump is president of the United States.

We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.

And we will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally, the state of Israel.

The Palestinians must come to the table knowing that the bond between the United States and Israel is absolutely, totally unbreakable.
The entire point of moving the embassy was to show the Palestinians that their threats, pressure and lies will not work with a Trump administration, that the president will stand with Israel no matter what and that any peace deal will be from a position of Israeli strength.

The decision to sign the waiver - and the implication that any critics of the President should shut up about it until December 1, 2020, after the next election - cannot be framed as anything but another broken promise.

Yes, other presidents did the same thing. But no other president made this issue such a major part of their campaign.

And that one signature has strengthened the Palestinian leadership's confidence that their empty threats of violence are still as effective at influencing world leaders as they ever were.

A US decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital would not have derailed any moves to peace. Palestinian and other Arab leaders are falling over themselves to please Trump. If he would have been strong on this promise from the beginning, instead of waffling about it starting in January, the Palestinians would have made some symbolic protests and then shut up about it.

They learned a lesson from this debacle, and that lesson lessens the chances of peace.

There is no doubt that Trump has done some very positive things towards the Middle East, things that reversed many (but not all) of the toxic policies of the Obama administration.

But no Israel-supporter can feel as confident in a Trump administration today as they did when he was elected.



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