I have been saying for months that the republican President Donald J. Trump presents a clear and present danger to the US national security interests. Not only do I question his mental stability, I have doubts his judgment, his integrity, his motives. This is a time when allies need to be able to rely on his promises, but because the president is truth challenged, this will be an additional hurdle.
Recently, It has become obvious that President Trump is under the gun by the FBI’s Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe regarding the president’s financial entanglements with Russians to where I’m convinced that he was turned into a Russian asset and/ or susceptible to Kompromat by the Russians.
From the president’s point of view, this would be the perfect time for a “wag the dog” type of scenario to deflect the media’s focus towards another shiny object and not him. And for good measure, this is an action plan that he had promised to his supporters during the campaign process.
My gut tells me that whenever he finds himself in hot water, his impulse is to cater to his base (at the direction of his Evangelical VP Mike Pence) which includes the Evangelicals who will be voting for the republican pedophile candidate of Alabama for the US Senate on December 12, 2017. He is now accommodating bigly to these supporters along with his far right donors like Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas; politicians like the US Senator Chuck Schumer and the far right in Jerusalem headed by Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
President Trump’s plans (so far) are to sign the required bi-annual waiver (December 2017 started by President Bill Clinton in 1995, which allows for the delay of the move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, while declaring the contested city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In the past, the most often cited argument against recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the embassy there is that this is a step that should be taken only after the successful conclusion of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. The status of Jerusalem is subject to bilateral negotiations, diplomats generally argue, and relocating the embassy as a gesture to Israel before a final-status agreement is signed would greatly anger Ramallah — sending an already moribund peace process to its certain death — and raise the ire of the larger Arab world and would thus threaten to destabilize the entire middle-east region.
Here is the rest of the story…
On December 4, 2017, Farah Najjar of Al Jazeera penned the following report, “What a US embassy in Jerusalem means to Palestinians.”
“The Arab League has announced that it will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday as the US mulls a decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
“Deputy Secretary-General Hussam Zaki said the meeting was called after a request from Palestinian officials to discuss developments on the status of Jerusalem.”
“In a telephone call on Monday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas called for a mass protest on Wednesday, and discussed how to unify the Palestinian people’s efforts to confront the threats facing Jerusalem.”
“The PA has also called on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Gulf Cooperation Council to hold meetings on this subject.”
“If US President Donald Trump carries out his decision, he will inflame the entire region and threaten the US’s interests there,” Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Abbas, said to Palestine TV.”
“Last week, Palestinians said that comments by US officials reiterating the pledge by President Donald Trump to move the embassy reflected the futility of peace negotiations.”
“US Vice President Mike Pence said last Tuesday that Trump was “actively” exploring “when and how” to relocate the embassy.”
‘A very dangerous step’
“During his election campaign last year, Trump repeatedly promised to move the embassy and recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.”
“The White House said at the time that the question is “not if that move happens, but only when”.
“The waiver expired on December 1, and the Trump administration has not yet announced whether it plans to renew it for an additional six months.”
“The controversial pledge, if implemented, would make the US the first country to have its embassy in Jerusalem – currently, all such diplomatic missions are located in Tel Aviv.”
“It would also overturn decades of international consensus on Jerusalem, a highly-contested city, half of which was occupied and annexed by Israel following the 1967 War.”
“If the relocation happens, it would be the first of its kind and would reaffirm to Israel that Jerusalem is ‘one and unified,’ Zakaria Odeh, Director of the Civic coalition for Palestinian rights in Jerusalem, told Al Jazeera.”
“It is a very dangerous step,” he added. “It would nullify any plans for future negotiations [on the conflict].”
“Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its “united” capital, and its annexation of East Jerusalem effectively put the entire city under de-facto Israeli control. The Palestinians, however, see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.”
The international community, including the US, does not recognise Israel’s jurisdiction and ownership of the city.
Palestinians say that moving the embassy would prejudge one of the most sensitive issues in the conflict – the status of Jerusalem – and undermine the US’ status as an honest mediator.
Earlier this year, Abbas warned against the embassy’s move in an official letter addressed to Trump.
It would have a “disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region”, the letter read.
Under the proposed 1947 UN Partition Plan, the city was meant to be internationally administered, due to its importance to the three Abrahamic religions. But, in 1948, Zionist forces seized the western half of the city and declared the area as part of what became Israel.
Khalil Shaheen, a Ramallah-based analyst, described Pence’s remarks as part of a “blackmail campaign”, arguing that the US is using the embassy as a tool to pressure the Palestinians.
“If the US relocates the embassy to Jerusalem, it will determine the city’s fate by recognising it as the capital of the occupying state, before even embarking on the peace negotiations it’s trying to achieve,” Shaheen told Al Jazeera.
“This will destroy any potential of establishing an independent Palestinian state through US negotiations – which is very dangerous,” he added.
Shaheen also argued the that US government is trying to draw out a path for the region at the expense of Palestinians, while attempting to force new conditions on their leadership before announcing its own plan for the peace process.
“We are witnessing the articulation of Israeli positions, but through American mouths,” said Shaheen, referencing the “Zionist” views of US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
“They belong to the most right-wing orientation in Israel,” he added.
Amani Khalifa, a Jerusalem-based activist, argued that the relocation might be a crucial political move for the diplomats of the PA, but not for ordinary Palestinians in Jerusalem.
“To regular people, it doesn’t really matter if the embassy stays in Tel Aviv or is relocated to Jerusalem,” she told Al Jazeera.
“But this move would make it clear to the rest of the world that there is no real sovereignty, and that the PA has no say over anything that happens in Jerusalem,” Khalifa added. “This has been the situation since 1967 – so this may be a good thing for Palestinians, to leverage on the fact that the occupation is real, and the move would act as proof.”
Referencing the expansion of Israel’s illegal settlement project and its house demolition policies in East Jerusalem, Khalifa described the move merely as an additional “step” that Israel would be taking to fulfill its objective of making Jerusalem its “undivided” capital.
“So, it’s really part of the wider context that started with the annexation,” she said.
On December 5, 2017, Jeremy Ben-Ami of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz penned the following op-ed piece, Opinion Trump Is Bringing Bloodshed, Not Peace, to Jerusalem
(The U.S. president is apparently willing to wreck Jared Kushner’s peace initiative, risk widespread violence, destabilize Mideast allies and fuel terror just to pander to his political base)
Haaretz Bullet Points:
Trump’s Jerusalem decision: Palestinians declare three ‘days of rage’ across West Bank; Arab world outraged
Trump’s ultimate deal will ‘die on the rocks of Jerusalem,’ if U.S. recognizes Israeli capital, Palestinians warn
Red lines and severed ties Trump’s looming Jerusalem embassy decision sparks diplomatic fallout
U.S. issues travel warning for Jerusalem’s Old City, West Bank amid embassy row
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.827053
Excerpts from Haaretz:
“President Donald Trump will likely deliver a speech Wednesday addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that may well lay out a new American policy regarding the status of Jerusalem. ”
“Many speculate that the president will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – a move that would likely please part of the 35-38 percent of Americans who support the President no matter what.”
“Such a move would hold strong political appeal for many evangelical Christians and no doubt win plaudits from right-wing members of Congress and Republican mega-donors like Sheldon Adelson. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli settler movement too would be thrilled. “
It would not, however, be particularly popular with American voters as a whole. A new poll by the University of Maryland found that 63 percent of Americans, including 44 percent of Republicans oppose moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The majority of American Jews – and of Americans as a whole – realize that international recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will only come through an agreement with the Palestinians and Arab states based on a two-state formula. Under such an agreement, parts of Jerusalem would be designated as the capital of Israel and of a future Palestine state with each side exercising sovereignty over those areas of the city where their citizens reside.
But the mythology of Jerusalem can’t change the reality of Jerusalem today – a city already shared by the two peoples who each claim it as their capital.
In practical terms, it is self-evident that parts of Jerusalem already serve as Israel’s capital. Most of the government is there: ministries, the Knesset, the Supreme Court and the Central Bank.
It is equally self-evident, however, that many neighborhoods of Jerusalem are Palestinian. In fact, the city is home to nearly 300,000 Palestinians, many living in abject poverty and in neglected and overcrowded neighborhoods. Most Palestinian neighborhoods in the city lack sufficient infrastructure, equal funding and fair opportunities for social and economic development.
Even Israel itself – despite the rhetoric of an eternal, undivided capital – doesn’t regard the Jerusalem municipality as indivisible. In fact, just as the President’s people pen a paean to an undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Israel’s parliament is poised to vote to excise from the city several Palestinian neighborhoods and tens of thousands of municipal residents.
Truly settling the status of Jerusalem demands less posturing and overblown rhetoric and more efforts to reach a two-state solution through negotiation.
Therein lies one of the ironies of Wednesday’s speech. The president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been working for months to engage Israel and the Palestinians in meaningful negotiations to resolve the conflict.
Yet this speech could sink Kushner’s initiative. This past weekend, Kushner said that advancing fundamental U.S. interests in the Middle East depends on getting a Palestinian-Israeli deal. The president is apparently willing to wreck that for the sake of pandering to his political base.
The consequences could be grave. There could be violence in Jerusalem, the occupied territories or even in the wider Arab and Muslim world. A change in America’s position on Jerusalem could destabilize Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and/ or the Jordanian monarchy. It will certainly provide Iran and its allies with a wonderful rallying cry and could even breathe new life into terrorist organizations like ISIS and Al-Qaida. It will further distance the US from its European allies.”
“American Jews play an important role in this debate. Jerusalem became a politcal football as politicians sought to win our support by demonstrating unquestioned support for Jewish claims to the city during the early Oslo years.”
Today, responsible American Jewish leaders understand that Israel’s long-run future as a democratic home for the Jewish people depends on separating into two states- and further realize that those states will need a capital in Jerusalem.
Now is the time to create a new political climate around this issue- one that puts resolving the conflict and not political pandering rt the center of American policy making.
NOTE: This blog was last updated on December 6, 2017.