Trump promises to move US Embassy to Jerusalem

Israeli prime minister Netanyahu held two separate meetings with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton yesterday, but the two meetings were very different.  The P.M. spent 90 minutes on Trump’s turf at Trump Tower with Trump, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dremer, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, a key campaign adviser.  In contrast, the meeting with Hillary Clinton lasted only an hour and took place on neutral territory, at the fashionable W Hotel.

But the biggest contrast was that  Trump alone promised to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a position GOP nominees usually take.  Reuters explains why this is regarded as controversial:

While Israel calls Jerusalem its capital, few other countries accept that, including the United States. Most nations maintain embassies in Tel Aviv.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in a 1967 war, as capital of the state they aim to establish alongside Israel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Congress long ago mandated this move, but no president has been willing to take the diplomatic blowback that would ensue if the U.S. actually affirmed undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and actually moved its embassy.  It is interesting to speculate whether a President Trump would follow through on this promise, but he is notably less intimidated by ferocious criticism than Hillary is.

In my own view, the position of the Palestinians in the Arab and Muslim worlds has significantly deteriorated as more pressing issues like ISIS and nuclear Iran are scaring the robes off the Saudi and Gulf monarchs whose funding has helped sustain the Palestinians’ war on Israel’s right to exist.  These monarchs still are wealthy beyond the dreams of most of us, but their budgets are challenged by a 50% or so drop in oil revenue.  So support for Palestinian causes as a line item in their budgets can be cut with less worry than, for example, cutting back on internal security forces.

Meanwhile, Israel thrives as a technology power and  now is developing vast offshore gas and fracking of oil onshore.  Its Arab neighbors have not fared well, but Egypt is not hostile.  There are lots of overlapping interests between Israel and Saudi in particular, as well, and there are reports of covert meetings between Israeli and Saudi officials. 

In such an environment, it is at least thinkable that a U.S. president could make the Big Move to Jerusalem and announce to the world that the U.S. accepts Israeli control of Jerusalem and will not tolerate non-Israeli control of East Jerusalem.  But it would require a bold leader not overly troubled by harsh criticism and even disdain.

A side note: Shockingly (to me), the Associated Press offers a “Big Story” article – see the URL: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/444f49d883a44acabe9b31b1a6261492/clinton-trump-buff-foreign-policy-bona-fides-debate-eve on the meetings of Netanyahu with both presidential contenders, and does not even mention Trump’s position on the embassy.  CNN’s account buried that to the very last paragraph, but at least it showed up!  And Reuters, to its credit, headlines it, as does left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the favorite source for New York Times dispatches to quote.

Rick Moran adds:

Prime Minister Netanyahu may be grateful for Trump's endorsement of a united Jerusalem, but it's possible that the prime minister would prefer to wait to implement the plan.

The diplomatic blowback would be intense if Netanyahu were to unilaterally declare a united Jerusalem the capital of Israel.  Even though it's been a goal of the Jewish state for decades, most Israeli leaders have preferred to make the status of Jerusalem a question for negotiations. 

Israel is already isolated enough.  A declaration on Jerusalem would make them more so.

Israeli prime minister Netanyahu held two separate meetings with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton yesterday, but the two meetings were very different.  The P.M. spent 90 minutes on Trump’s turf at Trump Tower with Trump, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dremer, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, a key campaign adviser.  In contrast, the meeting with Hillary Clinton lasted only an hour and took place on neutral territory, at the fashionable W Hotel.

But the biggest contrast was that  Trump alone promised to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a position GOP nominees usually take.  Reuters explains why this is regarded as controversial:

While Israel calls Jerusalem its capital, few other countries accept that, including the United States. Most nations maintain embassies in Tel Aviv.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in a 1967 war, as capital of the state they aim to establish alongside Israel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Congress long ago mandated this move, but no president has been willing to take the diplomatic blowback that would ensue if the U.S. actually affirmed undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and actually moved its embassy.  It is interesting to speculate whether a President Trump would follow through on this promise, but he is notably less intimidated by ferocious criticism than Hillary is.

In my own view, the position of the Palestinians in the Arab and Muslim worlds has significantly deteriorated as more pressing issues like ISIS and nuclear Iran are scaring the robes off the Saudi and Gulf monarchs whose funding has helped sustain the Palestinians’ war on Israel’s right to exist.  These monarchs still are wealthy beyond the dreams of most of us, but their budgets are challenged by a 50% or so drop in oil revenue.  So support for Palestinian causes as a line item in their budgets can be cut with less worry than, for example, cutting back on internal security forces.

Meanwhile, Israel thrives as a technology power and  now is developing vast offshore gas and fracking of oil onshore.  Its Arab neighbors have not fared well, but Egypt is not hostile.  There are lots of overlapping interests between Israel and Saudi in particular, as well, and there are reports of covert meetings between Israeli and Saudi officials. 

In such an environment, it is at least thinkable that a U.S. president could make the Big Move to Jerusalem and announce to the world that the U.S. accepts Israeli control of Jerusalem and will not tolerate non-Israeli control of East Jerusalem.  But it would require a bold leader not overly troubled by harsh criticism and even disdain.

A side note: Shockingly (to me), the Associated Press offers a “Big Story” article – see the URL: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/444f49d883a44acabe9b31b1a6261492/clinton-trump-buff-foreign-policy-bona-fides-debate-eve on the meetings of Netanyahu with both presidential contenders, and does not even mention Trump’s position on the embassy.  CNN’s account buried that to the very last paragraph, but at least it showed up!  And Reuters, to its credit, headlines it, as does left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the favorite source for New York Times dispatches to quote.

Rick Moran adds:

Prime Minister Netanyahu may be grateful for Trump's endorsement of a united Jerusalem, but it's possible that the prime minister would prefer to wait to implement the plan.

The diplomatic blowback would be intense if Netanyahu were to unilaterally declare a united Jerusalem the capital of Israel.  Even though it's been a goal of the Jewish state for decades, most Israeli leaders have preferred to make the status of Jerusalem a question for negotiations. 

Israel is already isolated enough.  A declaration on Jerusalem would make them more so.