‘Game changer’ opening of US embassy in Jerusalem

As promised by Donald trump the US has moved their Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. This is being celebrated by Israelis and by some in the US, and Guatemala, Paraguay and Honduras are expected to follow suit, but Palestinians see it as provocative and an attack on their sovereignty  and violent protests have erupted. This is a predictable immediate outcome, something the US should have known would happen – perhaps it is what Trump and his administration, and the Israelis, wanted.

Reuters: Israeli forces kill dozens in Gaza as U.S. Embassy opens in Jerusalem

Israeli troops shot dead dozens of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border on Monday as the United States opened its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, a move that has fueled Palestinian anger and drawn foreign criticism for undermining peace efforts.

It was the bloodiest single day for Palestinians since the Gaza conflict in 2014. Palestinian Health Ministry officials said 52 protesters were killed and more than 2,200 injured either by live gunfire, tear gas or other means.

The bloodshed drew calls for restraint from some countries including France and Britain, and stronger criticism from others, with Turkey calling it “a massacre”.

The Israeli military said it was responding to violence from the protesters to defend Israel’s border.

In contrast to the scenes in Gaza, Israeli dignitaries and guests attended a ceremony in Jerusalem to open the U.S. Embassy following its relocation from Tel Aviv.

The move fulfilled a pledge by U.S. President Donald Trump, who in December recognized the holy city as the Israeli capital.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Trump for “having the courage to keep your promises”.

“What a glorious day for Israel,” Netanyahu said in a speech. “We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay.”

It doesn’t look very glorious in Gaza.

Also from Reuters:

Significantly Trump’s daughter and son-in-law are

Kushner and the Trumps will have known that their actions would provoke violence.

LA Times looks at Israeli celebrations: On the eve of the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel celebrates

“The truth is that not only has Jerusalem been the capital of the Jewish people for millennia and of our state for decades, but the truth is that under any peace deal Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced from a stage bedecked with American and Israeli flags at a gala held in the courtyard of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

He expressed gratitude to President Trump for the decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv. For decades, Netanyahu has exhorted the world to recognize and accept Israel as it is — with its capital, its parliament, its Supreme Court and its ministries in Jerusalem.

The ceremony Monday officially opening the embassy is expected to draw about 800 dignitaries, including U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner.

But they also points out that the US move is not widely supported.

The European Union, however, has criticized the new American position as an impediment to peace, and four European ambassadors attended the festivities.

The Palestinian Authority government, which has boycotted all contact with American officials since Trump announced the embassy move in December, issued a a statement saying the relocation signified a U.S. endorsement of “Israel’s policies and measures that undermine Palestinians’ fundamental rights.”

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

The Israeli celebrations coincided with Jerusalem Day, in which residents enjoyed a day off to honor the anniversary of the 1967 reunification of the city by Israeli forces that captured East Jerusalem from the Jordanian army.

Choosing that as the day to celebrate the US move could also be seen as a pointed snub to the Palestinians.

Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina, is leading a congressional delegation to the embassy dedication.

“Everybody has a claim to Jerusalem, from a religious point of view,” he said. “But I think the premier claim comes from the Jewish people, that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and it could one day be the capital of the independent Palestinian state.”

That sounds confusing. He seems to be implying a split city, but saying that “the premier claim comes from the Jewish people” is unlikely to satisfy non-Jews and is unlikely to pacify the anger.

The Jerusalem Post unsurprisingly applauds the move: GAME CHANGER

Instead of staying away from the embassy opening, all those who truly seek peace should see this as the start of a new era in the ancient city.

The opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem justifiably is being called a “game changer” and “historic.” Seventy years after the State of Israel was born and 51 years after the reunification of the capital, the US, the only world superpower, is not only recognizing Jerusalem’s integral importance to Israel, the Jewish state, but acting on that recognition.

This sends out several important messages, not least of which is the importance of not giving in to terror.

Some people have voiced opposition to the move on the grounds that it might give rise to a wave of Palestinian or Islamist terrorism in Israel or against Jewish or American targets abroad. Had US President Donald Trump accepted this line of thought, it would have only encouraged and rewarded terrorism instead of diplomacy.

There doesn’t seem to have been a lot of diplomacy involved in the US embassy move, apart from between the US and Israel.

The US Embassy move rights an historic wrong and makes clear the terms of any future peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. It removes from the agenda the question of Israel’s status regarding Jerusalem, which houses its parliament, Supreme Court, President’s Residence, almost all government ministries and, of course, the Jewish holy sites.

It makes it clear that Israel remains uncompromising and peace will only happen on their terms – which suppressses the rights of the Palestinians.

The move is a game-changer not least because Trump’s opening of the embassy in Jerusalem unequivocally tells the Palestinians that Israel is here to stay and that Jerusalem, at least west Jerusalem, is and will remain its capital. As The Jerusalem Post‘s Michael Wilner reported yesterday, senior Trump administration officials said Palestinian resistance to America’s opening of an embassy in Jerusalem is based on a “fantasy” unhelpful to their cause: the fantasy of having veto power over the fate of the storied capital.

But the Palestinians have no real power. As long as Israel maintains military control the Palestinians are likely to feel oppressed. Terrorism is terrible, but for a substantially weaker side it can be seen as the only option when the powerful ride roughshod over their rights.

The embassy move may well be a game changer, but it is a protracted and often violent game, and there is a real risk that the change will be no less ugly than it has been.

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.”

Jerusalam Post: TRUMP: IF PALESTINIANS DON’T WANT PEACE, U.S. HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM

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.

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.

Jerusalem Post:  LIKUD CENTRAL BODY TO PUSH FOR ANNEXATION OF ENTIRE WEST BANK

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.

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.

 

 

 

Trump threatens over UN Jerusalem move, NZ to vote regardless

President Donald Trump has threatened to cut funding to countries that vote against the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

New Zealand is likely to vote against Trump regardless.

AP: Trump threat to cut aid raises stakes in UN Jerusalem vote

President Donald Trump’s threat to cut off U.S. funding to countries that oppose his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has raised the stakes in Thursday’s U.N. vote and sparked criticism at his tactics, which one Muslim group called bullying or blackmail.

Trump went a step further than U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley who hinted in a tweet and a letter to most of the 193 U.N. member states on Tuesday that the U.S. would retaliate against countries that vote in favor of a General Assembly resolution calling on the president to rescind his decision.

Haley said the president asked her to report back on countries “who voted against us” — and she stressed that the United States “will be taking names.”

At the start of a Cabinet meeting in Washington on Wednesday, with Haley sitting nearby, Trump told reporters that Americans are tired of being taken advantage of and praised the U.S. ambassador for sending the “right message” before the vote.

Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, tweeted after Trump’s comments: “Our government should not use its leadership at the UN to bully/blackmail other nations that stand for religious liberty and justice in Jerusalem. Justice is a core value of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.”

The Palestinians and their Arab and Islamic supporters sought the General Assembly vote after the United States on Monday vetoed a resolution supported by the 14 other U.N. Security Council members that would have required Trump to rescind his declaration on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and not move the U.S. Embassy there.

NZ Herald:  NZ likely to vote against Trump and the US in UN vote on Jerusalem tomorrow

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has signalled that New Zealand will criticise US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in a United Nations vote tomorrow.

But she stopped short of calling him a bully, as Trump threatened to cut US aid money to countries that voted against him.

Ardern was critical when Trump first recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this month, saying it “will make things difficult” for peace.

Today she said the logistics around tomorrow’s vote were still being ​worked through, but New Zealand’s position had not changed.

“Some of the things we saw by international actors like the US recently, those are decision that should only be made in the context of a [UN] resolution around a two-state solution. It took us backwards, not forwards.”

Asked about possible aid sanctions, she said: “I would push back strongly and say New Zealand has and will always have an independent foreign policy. We base our decisions on principle, not on being bullied.”

She was not concerned by his threats to cut off aid.

“We’ve always made decisions that represent our beliefs and our position, and we’ll continue to do that. We’ve done it on things like nuclear issues before and we’ll continue to do so.”

Asked if she thought Trump was a bully, she said: “People make their own interpretations.”

UPDATE: New Zealand voted in favour.

Christians and Muslims unite over Jerusalem

 

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.

Jerusalem truck attack

Four people have been killed by a truck attack in Jerusalem.

Reuters: At least four dead in Palestinian truck attack in Jerusalem

A Palestinian rammed his truck into a group of Israeli soldiers on a popular promenade in Jerusalem on Sunday, killing four of them in an attack which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said had likely been inspired by Islamic State.

It was the deadliest Palestinian attack in Jerusalem in months and targeted officer cadets as they disembarked from a bus that brought them to the Armon Hanatziv promenade which has a panoramic view of the walled Old City.

The military said an officer and three officer cadets were killed and that 17 others were injured. Police said three of the dead were women.

Police identified the truck driver as a Palestinian from Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem and said he was shot dead. His uncle, Abu Ali, named him as Fadi Ahmad Hamdan Qunbor, 28, a father of four from the Jabel Mukabar neighborhood.

Netanyahu visited the scene and said he convened a forum of senior ministers to discuss Israel’s response.

“We know the identity of the attacker. According to all the signs he is a supporter of Islamic State,” the prime minister said.

 This will do nothing to resolved entrenched problems in Israel and the Middle East.