Trump slaps Middle East peace

In a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Donald Trump has given hopes of advances in Middle East peace talks a slap, ruling out dealing with the Palestinians unless they do what he wants.

Does this mean his son-in-law Jarod Kushner will be reassigned from his Middle East peace mission?

Last month:  Donald Trump has a plan to bring peace to the Middle East – he just can’t reveal it, says Jared Kushner

President Donald Trump’s push for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians stems from a belief that his broader goals of stopping Iranian aggression and Islamic extremism will not be possible without it, presidential adviser Jared Kushner said in a rare public appearance on Sunday.

“If we’re going to try to create more stability in the region as a whole, you have to solve this issue,” Kushner told Middle East experts gathered at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum. Trump, he said, “sees this as something that has to be solved.”

But nearly a year after Trump named Kushner, his son-in-law and senior White House aide, as point person for what he called “the ultimate deal,” there has been no public indication of where the initiative is heading.

“We’ve solicited a lot of ideas from a lot of places,” Kushner said. “There is obviously a lot of speculation… ‘There is a plan, what is it? Are these four points in or out?’

“We all kind of laugh and say, OK, we’re just not going to play the guessing game… We know what’s in the plan. The Palestinians know what discussions we’ve had with them, the Israelis know.”


Unless the Palestinian Authority shows that it wants to make peace, the US will “not have anything to do with them any longer,” US President Donald Trump said Thursday in Davos before meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I can tell you, Israel does want to make peace, and they [the Palestinians] are going to have to want to make peace too, or we aren’t going to have anything to do with them any longer,” Trump said, sitting next to Netanyahu. “This was not brought up by other negotiators, but it is brought up by me.“

Is this another case of Trump making things difficult for his Middle East peace team led by Kushner?

Trump did not hide his anger toward the Palestinians for snubbing Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to Israel this week, saying that the US will withhold aid funds to them until they return to negotiations.

The Palestinians, he said, “disrespected us” by not “allowing our great vice president to see them, and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid support.”

That money, Trump said, will not go to the Palestinians “unless they sit down and negotiate peace.”

Time will tell what happens to the peace process, Trump said, “but respect has to be shown to the US, or we just are not going any further.”

Respect generally needs to be earned, not demanded with ultimatums.

Trump said that the US has a peace proposal, which he characterized as “a great proposal for the Palestinians” and a “very good proposal for Israel.”

He said the proposal “covers a lot of the things that were over the years discussed and agreed on.”

The fact is, he said, “ there were never any deals that came close because you could never get past Jerusalem.”

Trump dismissed critics saying that his Jerusalem decision set back peace, saying that he enhanced the chances of peace by taking the toughest issue off the table.

The issue of Jerusalem hasn’t been taken off the table by Trump, he has inflamed it.

Not surprisingly responses have not been complimentary.

In response to Trump’s words, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeinah said: “If the issue of Jerusalem remains off the table, America will remain away from the table.”

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat also responded to Trump’s comments, saying: “Today’s message is clear: President Trump is blackmailing and punishing the Palestinian people for fighting and believing in their freedom and human rights per international law and UN resolutions. President Trump could buy many things with his money, but he won’t be able to buy the dignity of our nation.”

“This is not a game for the people of Palestine. It is about our very existence that continues to be denied by Israel with full US support,” Erekat continued.

“As the US Administration insists to continue promoting international anarchy and rewarding violations of international law, we will continue to use all available political, diplomatic and legal venues in order to achieve the long overdue rights of the Palestinian people, most importantly our right to self-determination.”

Middle East peace was always going to be difficult to achieve. Kushner’s job looks to be a bit harder still now, unless this was his plan all along.

Lorde just the latest musician mired in Israel controversy

Playing concerts in Israel are fraught with risks, as Lorde recently found out after first announcing and soon afterwards cancelling a concert. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

But just avoiding including Israel in tour plans means that opponents of Israel win, because that’s what they are trying to impose.

Washington Post – Lorde is only the latest: How touring in Israel thrusts musicians into controversy

On Dec. 18, New Zealand pop music sensation Lorde announced plans to play concerts in Israel and Russia. On Dec. 24, she announced the cancellation of her Israeli concert, which was scheduled for June 5 at the Tel Aviv Convention Centre. “I’m not too proud to admit I didn’t make the right call on this one,” she said in a statement.

In the six days between Lorde’s concert announcement and her cancellation, an increasingly pitched battle played out, both in public and behind the scenes, to win over the 21 year-old pop star. Activists and fans in favor of the ongoing cultural boycott of Israel because of the country’s policies related to Palestinians urged her to reconsider; pro-Israeli activists and fans lobbied for her to hold fast.

Lorde was caught in a no-win situation, but she is far from being the first.

In recent years, these artistic tug-of-wars over artists including Radiohead, Lauryn Hill and Nick Cave, have become increasingly common, although Lorde’s change of heart has been the highest-profile musical victory yet for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

If there’s one thing on which both sides can agree, it’s that 21 year-old artists from half a world away can’t be expected to understand the full details of a complicated issue tied to one of the defining geopolitical conflicts of our time. Musicians of any age who contemplate playing Israel sometimes lack awareness of the risks and rewards.

Managers and tour arrangers should be aware of the potential problems with booking gigs in Israel. A cynic could suggest it is deliberate publicity seeking (with or without the artist’s understanding).

Tour promoters warn acts in advance of any “delicacies they need to be aware of,” says Oren Arnon, a promoter at leading Israeli company Shuki Weiss, who did not promote the Lorde show. Artist managers warn fellow artist managers.

David Renzer, a music publishing veteran who co-founded the entertainment industry anti-boycott group the Creative Community For Peace, says his organization works within the record industry to outline the merits of playing in Israel, and warn of its complications.

The response to Lorde’s cancellation has been swift, and seismic. A hundred artists, including Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel and author Alice Walker, signed an open letter supporting her. Israel’s Culture Minister said she hoped the singer would reconsider, while its ambassador to New Zealand asked for a meeting.

Critics on Twitter pointed out the human-rights abuses in Russia, where Lorde still plans to play two shows.

In a roundly condemned full-page ad in The Washington Post, an American rabbi suggested that “21 is young to become a bigot,” its text juxtaposed with an image of Lorde appearing to stare skeptically at the Israeli flag.

Both sides have accused the other of extremist rhetoric, acting in bad faith and bullying, allegations that have become commonplace in the ongoing war for celebrity hearts and minds.

Arnon claims Cave, the Australian post-punk icon, endured “months and months of humiliation” before his November shows in Tel Aviv went on as planned.

The most prominent voice in supporting touring boycotts of Israel has become Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters. The man responsible for “Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall” has spent the past decade becoming increasingly outspoken on the issue, and uses his fame within the music industry to confront artists who plan to perform in Israel.

I’m going to a Roger Waters concert in Dunedin later this month. Just for the music of course, it will be an evening break from politics.

Israel attracts a perhaps greater-than-usual share of baby boomers such as Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and Elton John. Classic rock acts are often indifferent to social media pressure campaigns, and their fans tend to have enough disposable income to withstand the country’s frequently higher ticket prices.

Perhaps rockers from the sixties are used to being controversial – some of them stoked and relished it, so a bit of political banter will be just more publicity.

Promoters live with the constant threat that a musician might bolt, whether it’s an apolitical artist who just wants to avoid a public thrashing, or someone privately sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, observing what Barghouti calls a “silent boycott.”

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Pharrell Williams, Elvis Costello and Lauryn Hill have all canceled dates in Israel, the latter two suggesting issues of conscience were responsible.

A major problem with ‘conscience’ based boycotts is claims of inconsistency and hypocrisy, as Lorde discovered when her plans for Israel and Russia were compared.

Lorde’s cancellation is seen as a needed, high-profile win for pro-boycott activists.

Perhaps it is also a high profile win for Lorde’s tour publicity.

Lorde will almost certainly be one of the last major artists to schedule an Israel concert date without appearing to have fully considered the global implications. From now on, if it weren’t the case already, merely scheduling a concert date in Israel will be considered a political act.

“It’s a very tricky issue,” the concert promoter Arnon says. “And you never come out of it clean.”

So best to avoid including Israel in tour schedules, as the anti-Israel protesters demand? Or try the schedule then cancel trick to increase your tour publicity?

What if a protest movement starts to target artists who plan to perform in the US?

Likud wants to annex entire West Bank

Encouraged by the US move to recognise Jeruslaem as the Israeli capital, the Likud central committee may endorse annexation of the whole West Bank in a move that could bind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and all of the party’s ministers and Knesset members.


The Likud central committee is expected to vote to endorse annexation of Judea, Samaria, the Jordan Valley and Jerusalem in a meeting at Airport City on Sunday that is being billed as historic.

The decision would bind Likud Chairman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as all of the party’s ministers and Knesset members.

“The goal is not to pressure the prime minister, because we believe he supports the initiative but cannot say so,” (Likud activist Natan) Engelsman said. “Our goal is to strengthen Netanyahu, who could have stopped the vote but made a point of letting it happen.”

“This is a historic event that we have been waiting for.”

“If the president of the United States believes Jerusalem is ours, there is no reason why a right-wing party and coalition cannot. It’s important for us to show Trump what the ruling party in Israel wants, and since he loves the Jewish people, sooner or later, he will come to the same conclusion.”

“After Trump was elected, I said the time had come to set a diplomatic goal of annexing Area C, on the way to exercising our sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria,” Sa’ar said in the video he sent the Likud activists. “This will give a practical solution to the needs of the half-million Israelis living in Judea and Samaria.”

It is unlikely to be seen as ‘a practical solution’ by the Palestinians and most of the Middle East.

Also from Jerusalem Post: New Western Wall train station to be named after Trump

That’s likely to appeal to Trump’s vanity and may encourage him to support annexation of the West Bank.

Iran protests

The Middle East doesn’t seem to be quite sorted out yet. Iran has experienced the largest internal protests since 2009, and Donald Trump and Israel are taking the opportunity to try and stir things up.

Are Trump’s tweets helping or hurting?

The consensus from experts: US President Donald Trump’s tweets about the situation are not helpful.
Rather, they say, the world should show solidarity with the Iranian people by supporting freedom of expression.
That’s not something Trump has been good at supporting in the US, with his attacks on media and on sports people protesting.

Looks typically very messy and a long way from a lasting solution.

More Lorde criticism

A large advertisement has been run in the Washington Post criticising Lorde’s decision to pull out of a planned concert in Israel.

It’s blatant bullshit to associate Lorde’s decision with New Zealand. She may come from here but she is an international artist acting on her own (with her management).

But her canning the Israel concert could be a slippery slope, for her and for other performers put under similar political pressure.

The power of social media is not always positive – in fact it’s often negative.


‘Music should unite not divide’

That sounds similar to arguments about maintaining sporting relations under apartheid in South Africa, but it is also an argument with some merit.

RNZ:  ‘Music should unite not divide’

Lorde was set to play in Tel Aviv on 5 June as part of her Melodrama tour but was last week urged not to perform.

Late last week the New Zealand Palestinian Human Rights Campaign said Lorde’s concert would be seen as an endorsement of the Israel government and its treatment of Palestinians.

Spokesperson Janfrie Wakim said the show would be in breach of a cultural boycott supported by 170 Palestinian groups.

In a Facebook post Itzhak Gerberg has invited the singer to a “friendly meeting” to talk it over.

Mr Gerberg says by succumbing to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Lorde is encouraging animosity in the region.

“Music should unite not divide,” the post read.

“Reactions driven by hatred lead to continued #conflict. But solutions come from engagement and lead to compromise, co-operation, and #peace.”

A fair argument.

The US-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which campaigns against antisemitism, said the fact Lorde still plans to tour Russia illustrates the hypocrisy of the international community towards the region’s only democracy.

Also a fair point – it would be possible to find someone who could justify a boycott of performances in many different countries.

Yesterday Israel’s culture minister Miri Regev said she should be a “pure heroine” of culture, void of any foreign political considerations.

Lorde is refunding fans who had bought tickets and said she didn’t make the right call in agreeing to the show.

I don’t know how many views she listened to before coming to that conclusion. Perhaps mostly her business manager.

It has certainly raised Lorde’s profile.

Musical performances have arguably helped change history.For example:

Rocking the Wall — The Berlin Concert that Changed the World

As incredible as it may sound in 2014, there is considerable evidence that Springsteen unwittingly helped bring the Berlin Wall down with the biggest, most riveting earth-shaking concert in the history of East Germany.

It all happened 16 months before the Wall fell in July 1988, and the biggest crowd Springsteen ever played before watched him perform in the East Berlin district of Weissensee on a giant meadow. Springsteen worked his magic there in front of a crowd of 300,000 people — only half of whom had tickets. The other half simply stormed the gates and got away with it.

Not only did Springsteen have ecstatic East Germans screaming their lungs out while singing “Born in the USA,” he also opened his four-hour long concert defiantly with “Badlands,” a song that East Germans might have felt referred to their country, and he later played “Chimes of Freedom” right after delivering a courageous short speech calling for the wall to be torn down. For East Germans locked up behind the Berlin Wall it was an unforgettable address and an incredibly liberating moment — an American rock star telling 300,000 people that he came to play for them in the hope that “one day the barriers will be torn down.”

And 16 months later, the Berlin Wall was gone.

Could Lorde help precipitate historic change in Jerusalem and in the Middle East?



Lorde and Israel

A singer has removed a gig from their schedule. In the circumstances I have concerns about the use of social media pressure to coerce, but this is just the entertainment industry and the bottom line is financial, and that’s likely to be the reason for the change.

But some seem to think it’s a big deal.

The Standard:


It’s fair to question why Lorde has singled out Israel, but why single out Russia as a comparison? Activists in the world could probably argue against every venue if so inclined.

Tough talk from a dirty gutless flake? WO should know all about financial compromises and imperatives.

But this may not be the end of it, as the other side of social media pressure plays it’s hand.

Reaction to the UN vote on the US and Jerusalem

There has also been some predictable wailing at the Whale:

Curiously Whale Oil has not mentioned this reaction (1 News): Winston Peters backs NZ vote against US, calling for withdrawal of decision on Jerusalem

Foreign Minister Winston Peters has backed the United Nations vote calling for the United States to withdraw its decision to recognise Jersualem as the capital of Israel.

“The resolution reflects New Zealand’s long-held support for a two-state solution to the conflict.

“The resolution called for the acceleration of efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasing peace in the Middle East.

“This is something we all can support.”

Prime Minister Ardern’s reaction (NZ Herald): NZ votes against US over declaring Jerusalem as capital of Israel

“New Zealand has long supported the two-state solution. This is not about any other nations relative position be it Australia or be it the United States, it’s about maintaining our independent foreign policy and our position around support of that two-state solution so I don’t think it should be something that is framed that is for or against the US.”

When questioned why not, Ardern said anything that happened before it was resolved “would be premature”.

“Certainly any moves like those taken by the US don’t take us any further towards that resolution and that’s the argument that New Zealand has made and obviously a number of other countries have made that point as well so to sit alongside hundreds of other countries I think it’s fair to say that there’s a real sentiment there, but yes, ultimately we need to find a peaceful solution but that’s what needs to come first.”

This was repeated an an Al Jazeera Asia-Pacific report: Australia, Pacific nations sidestep overwhelming UN vote on Jerusalem

Australia and other Pacific nations did not join almost 130 countries in an overwhelming vote at the UN demanding the United States drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reports RNZ Pacific.

A total of 128 countries — including New Zealand and Papua New Guinea — backed the resolution, which is non-binding, nine voted against — including Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and Nauru — and 35 abstained.

Twenty-one countries, including Samoa and Tonga, did not cast a vote.

New Zealand supported the UN resolution calling for the US to withdraw a decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

New Zealand’s longstanding foreign policy position supports a two-state solution.

Weekend Herald editorial: Bid to sway vote with foreign aid threat was a disgrace to the United States

Every time it seems Donald Trump could not do much worse, he does. His crude attempt to sway a United Nations vote with United States foreign aid discredits his country on a worse level than the leadership it has lost in the world under his presidency. It is one thing to pull out of treaties on trade and climate change and the like, it is quite another thing to try to bully or bribe other countries to do his bidding.

The threat to “take names” of aid recipients who supported a resolution in the General Assembly against his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was as foolish as it was disreputable.

Destitute places who defied him probably will not lose their aid, if only because better people far below the President in the ranks of US policy making can probably see that they keep it. At the end of its first year the Trump Administration is being described as chaotic and dysfunctional, leaving space for responsible office holders to work around the impetuous utterances and late-night tweets of the President. It has reached the point where other countries’ leaders seem not to take him too seriously.

Britain and other European allies went ahead and voted for the UN resolution, as did New Zealand.

Just as Trump can ignore world opinion, the countries of the world (apart from a handful of tiny nations who voted against the resolution) can ignore Trump’s threats.

After nearly a year under Trump the US is rapidly losing its claim to be any sort of model of human rights and democracy. Bullies and autocrats around the world are citing his attitudes and statements to justify their own treatment of opponents, critics, women and minorities. A presidency could hardly sink much lower than this but it probably will.

Unfortunately Trump and the US will probably sink lower.

New Zealand seems to have got little attention internationally on the vote apart from being listed amongst those countries supporting the resolution.

Israel Institute of New Zealand: New Zealand sided with the mob in yet another anti-Israel UN resolution

New Zealand has further entrenched UN discrimination against the only Jewish state by voting with the mob, against sovereign nations being allowed to declare their own capitals.

There are 193 member states of the United Nations. Of these, 125 – the Non-aligned movement, which includes the 57 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation – are inherently anti-Israel and anti-democratic. It is little wonder that there are disproportionately more resolutions passed against Israel than any other country (by a ratio of 20:1) when countries like Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela dictate the agenda.

And New Zealand “joined the bullies” in voting for the resolution, as Israel Institute of New Zealand director, Dr David Cumin, told RadioNZ.

And talking to Te Karere, Dr Cumin said it was disappointing that New Zealand was not standing up to the bullies at the UN who push resolutions that “seek to deny Jews access to their most tapu sites” and to ignore the tangata whenua status of Jews in Israel.

However this is about more than “sovereign nations being allowed to declare their own capitals”.

The (draft) resolution states:

Status of Jerusalem

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,

Bearing in mind the specific status of the Holy City of Jerusalem and, in particular, the need for the protection and preservation of the unique spiritual, religious and cultural dimensions of the city, as foreseen in relevant United Nations resolutions,

Stressing that Jerusalem is a final status issue to be resolved through negotiations in line with relevant United Nations resolutions,

Expressing, in this regard, its deep regret at recent decisions concerning the
status of Jerusalem,

  1. Affirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council, and in this regard calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem, pursuant to Security Council resolution 478 (1980);
  2. Demands that all States comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the Holy City of Jerusalem, and not recognize any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions;
  3. Reiterates its call for the reversal of the negative trends on the ground that are imperilling the two-State solution and for the intensification and acceleration of international and regional efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet road map, and an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967.




The Jerusalem announcement effect

President Donald Trump’s announcement that the US would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US embassy there was controversial, and has been deeply unpopular with Palestinians and throughout much of the Middle East. It may also be unpopular in the US.

The Guardian: Defiant Donald Trump confirms US will recognise Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Donald Trump has defied overwhelming global opposition by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but insisted that the highly controversial move would not derail his own administration’s bid to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In a short speech delivered at the White House, Trump directed the state department to start making arrangements to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a process that officials say will take at least three years.

“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said. “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.”

Trump said: “My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.”

It is highly debatable whether this will help already difficult attempts at peace solutions, and may do the opposite.

The president’s announcement provoked condemnation from US allies, and a furious reaction from Palestinian leaders and the Muslim world.

Al Jazeera: Trump’s Jerusalem move roundly condemned at UN

During an emergency meeting, UN Security Council members widely condemned Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that has led to deadly clashes across the occupied Palestinian territories.

Eight countries called for the emergency meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday, as Palestinians protested across the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza Strip against the US president’s decision throughout the day.

Several countries resoundingly condemned the unilateral move by the US to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, while Israel says Jerusalem, which is under Israeli occupation, cannot be divided.

The international community has never recognised Israel’s claim to the entire city.

Predictably it provoked protests and violence – Reuters: Israeli strikes kill two Gaza gunmen, anti-Trump protests less intense

Israeli air strikes in Gaza killed two Palestinian gunmen on Saturday after rockets were fired from the enclave, in violence that erupted over President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump’s reversal of decades of U.S. policy has infuriated the Arab world and upset Western allies, who say it is a blow to peace efforts and risks sparking more violence in the region.

Gaza militants launched at least three rockets toward Israeli towns from the Gaza Strip – which is controlled by the Islamist group Hamas – after dark on Friday. The day had been declared a “day of rage” by Palestinian factions protesting against Trump’s announcement on Wednesday.

Trump’s announcement has not been supported internationally, and has had limited support in the US.

Time: Rex Tillerson Is on a Lonely Mission to Defend Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Pronouncement

It’s a go-to catchphrase when U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is called on to explain his boss on the world stage: “America first is not America alone.” Yet as President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel, Tillerson on Wednesday stood all by himself.

The onslaught came from all sides as Tillerson, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, got an earful from many a U.S. ally on Trump’s Jerusalem move. So far, not a single country — other than Israel, of course — has thrown its support behind the declaration. Even Tillerson’s own State Department has conceded the announcement could sow unrest throughout the Middle East.

Asked about Trump’s decision, Tillerson insisted the president “still is very committed to the peace process” — an assertion that U.S. allies said Trump had disproven by going ahead with the move despite near-universal protestations. And while the decision directly affects his department, Tillerson acknowledged his role was relatively minimal, focused on ensuring the State Department and Pentagon had enough time to boost precautions to keep U.S. personnel overseas safe amid the inevitable backlash.

Tillerson claims US support: On Jerusalem, Trump obeys will of US people: Tillerson

“The president is simply carrying out the will of the American people,” Tillerson said at a news conference with Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz.

“This has to do with the US law and a US decision and every country has a right to decide what it wants to decide as to its embassy in Israel.”

But apart from the protests Trump’s announcement won’t take immediate effect, other than give the appearance of fulfilling a campaign promise.

Fox News: Trump’s Jerusalem move: President’s patented strategy of taking a half-step

With his speech about moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, President Trump is following a familiar pattern.

He is taking a controversial step but not going all the way—taking a kind of halfway measure that fulfills a campaign promise but doesn’t necessarily have immediate consequences.

He has become the first president since Israel’s founding in 1948 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital, although other presidential candidates have talked about doing so. At the same time, he is signing a waiver to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv for another six months, and officials say it could take years to build an embassy in Jerusalem.

Indeed it could take years. Haaretz: Jerusalem Embassy Move Won’t Happen Next Year

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Friday that moving of the U.S. Embassy to Jeruaslem is likely to take at least two years due to logistical reasons. Tillerson stated that the move probably won’t happen “this year or next year.”

He added that Jerusalem’s “final status” will be decided in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

So apart from provoking protests and claiming a promise has been kept, and making Middle East peace efforts harder, what has changed? Possible American approval of Trump. His approval rating had been slightly improved, until his Jerusalem announcement, after which it has dropped sharply to near lows again.

So what has been gained, apart from pleasing Israel, international condemnation, violent protests and pissing on the peace process?

Trump may have been delivering more for rich campaign supporters than for his voter support base.


Trump throws Jerusalem bomb

I thought President Donald Trump had said he wants to help bring peace to the Middle East, and had his son-in-law Jared Kushner working on it.

But Trump has just thrown what could be an incendiary bomb into the Middle East.

This move may please some, but it is certain to annoy, anger and incite many. It is a very risky move – unless the aim is to deliberately provoke unrest.