BLOG 378 January 15, 2018
On December 6, President Donald Trump crossed the diplomatic Rubicon by declaring Jerusalem to be the capital of the Jewish state and shutting the door on Palestinians claims. Of course, this action flew in the face of the Vatican and virtually every other country in the world. The Muslim Arab world responded as expected. Turkish President Recep Erdogan called Trump “a partner in bloodshed.” The Hamas leader said the move reflected contempt for Palestinians feelings and holy sites. The condemnations went on and on.
What do these response mean?
An analysis in the December The Jerusalem Post has proven to be true. Ben Lynfield noted that the Palestinians will not get a strong response from Arab states. The bitter reality for them is that key countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan are simply too dependent on the USA to get into a fight with the Trump administration. Cairo, Riyadh, and Amman will make no more than make accusatory verbal responses and then wait for the reaction of the street protesters to fade. The “sleeper” is Iran and concern for how to handle their current aggression. However, French President Emmanuel Macron said Trump’s action was dangerous to peace, defied international law, and would cause instability.
Gabriel Ben-Dor, a Middle East expert at the University of Haifa said, “The moderate Arab states will understand this is a compromise for Trump between his commitments and the practical realities. They’ll protest verbally, but that’s all.”
Critics will say that Trump’s move was personal, trying to divert attention from the multitude of personal scandals facing the White House. However, in his speech to the United Nations, Trump parted ways with the global idealism of all previous presidents back to George W. Brush. American isolationists applaud such efforts while nations in the Middle East cringe in apprehension. Of course, Trump made this effort a campaign promise, but was he just dodging another bullet? Hard to say.
The crunch will come when (and if) the embassy is actually moved.
Trump’s response to this upheaval came on January 2, 2018 when he warned the Palestinians that he might cut off all assistance if they don’t show interest in making peace with Israel. Trump’s speeches and tweets are always a challenge to decipher as it is not clear what he means and the fact that the next day Trump may change his mind. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley clarified that Trump considered stopping additional funding until the Palestinians agree to come back to the negotiation table.
What’s next? Who knows!