BLOG 326 November 14, 2016
The week before the election I examined the Israeli perspective on both Trump and Clinton. Now the votes are in. What’s ahead?
Because Trump was often vague in the Fall Campaign, Israel believed he did not have a coherent foreign policy. It now appears that to some extent he didn’t want to fully expose his positions during the Fall. Of course, the campaign was highly personality oriented, and he changed positions spontaneously, bouncing back and forth. However, some positions were clear.
During the last days of the campaign, President-elect Trump clearly stated that he intended to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Since 1948, no president has taken this position that would seriously undermine Palestinian claims to the eastern part of the city. Trump’s advisors are much closer to Israel’s hard-line right wing than the Obama administration ever was. As has been observed a number of times in the past, Obama not only had serious tension with Netanyahu but was seen negatively throughout Israel. Moving the embassy would be a major change for both nations.
At this time, Trump’s closest advisors are certainly not pro-Palestinians. Trump’s son-in-law is from the Jewish Krushner family. It has been reported that just prior to the election Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared prayed at the tomb of Menachem Sneerson of blessed memory, the former leader of the Labvicher Hassidic movment. Newt Gingrich has called the Palestinians an “invented” people. Rudy Guiliani recommended abandoning the idea of a Palestinian state as part of a peace accord. The Republican platform did not mention Palestinian statehood. In Netanyhua’s cabinet, the education minister said this amounts to an opportunity to drop the Palestinian statehood idea.
Such a modification would be change indeed!
Some of the foregoing are speculation, but it is a clear indication that major adjustments are coming. Certainly, Trump’s rhetoric focused on fighting Islamic militants. Many of his pronouncements during the campaign were opposed to Islam.
At this point, the Palestinians are officially taking a wait-and-see attitude. Foreign Minister Riad Malki said they didn’t know yet what Trump’s policies will be but hope he will push for a two-state solution.
At this time no one can speak dogmatically about what is ahead because during the campaign Trump repeated outright contradictory positions on the Middle East. At this time, Israelis are probably more optimistic than they were a few weeks ago. The Palestinians have to be concerned.
More to come. Stay tuned.