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Brentwood School

Opinion: Trump’s rash announcement about US Embassy in Jerusalem

On Dec. 6, President Donald Trump defied foreign leaders and domestic advisors alike. Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced his intentions to relocate the United States Embassy to Jerusalem.

The move was rash and uncalculated; it alienated neighbors, reignited already high tensions, and discredited American impartiality in Arab-Israeli negotiations.

Trump’s statement immediately prompted international outcry. A United Nations General Assembly vote condemned the action by wide margins of 128-9, even in the face of threats issued by United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that America would “remember” the rebuke.

The United Nations General Assembly’s vote indicates a sweeping repudiation of Trump’s statement. It is foolhardy for the President to engage in activities that drive a wedge between America and its allies.

The Trump administration’s plan is to renovate and then move the American embassy into a U.S. West Jerusalem consular facility as early as next year.

Middle Eastern tensions surrounding Israel already run high. Rather than calming the turmoil, Trump fanned the flames. Many Palestinians are already suspicious of American involvement in peace talks. Trump’s remarks validated this distrust and solidified anti-American sentiment in the region. What is needed is peaceful mediation, not side-taking or provocation.

Thousands of Palestinians responded to the announcement with protests. Terrorist organization Hamas issued a call for a third Intifada, while the Palestinian Fatah, affiliated with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, announced the start of three days of rage. Dozens were injured in subsequent standoffs with the Israeli police.

Jerusalem’s history is complicated. Western Jerusalem became part of Israel in 1948, but the eastern part of the city was only liberated or captured (depending on who one asks) in 1967.

Jerusalem has long been a disputed territory; three of the world’s most prominent religions consider it integral to their faith. Jews see Jerusalem as a holy city where God spoke to Abraham, the first Jew. Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven in Jerusalem. For Christians, Jerusalem is the site at which Jesus was crucified and resurrected.

In 1995, Congress passed The Jerusalem Embassy Act, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The act called for Jerusalem to be undivided and for the US Embassy to relocate from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Subsequently, however, presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump all signed six-month rolling waivers to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv, citing national security concerns.

Indeed, Trump himself signed another six-month delay waiver the very day on which he announced U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

According to “The New York Times,” Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy was designed to placate billionaire Sheldon Adelson (who gave Trump’s presidential campaign $20 million), as well as evangelicals and other significant donors.

Trump’s declaration indicates that the President is more concerned with campaign promises and impressing his donors than he is in taking real action or promoting conflict resolution for unrest in the Middle East.

Trump has exploited the instability of the Middle East to satisfy campaign promises and curry favor with his donors. The ensuing inflammation of a tense region and discreditation of America on an international level demonstrate the recklessness of the president’s move.


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  • Reply Bob February 11, 2018 at 4:56 am

    There are factors that support Trump’s decision. First, Palestinian negotiators have apparently refused to consider entertaining the possibility of accepting Jerusalem as Israel’s capital at the conclusion of a peace process. In addition, the strength of the Palestinian negotiating position since the mid- to late 1970s has largely been a result of their sponsorship by Mideast oil producers with significant geopolitical clout. Recent changes in the global oil market has eliminated most of that clout, with the result that Palestinian negotiators are relying on sponsors who have lost most of their diplomatic power. That means that, for Trump, the only question was what course of action makes the most sense in terms of US politics. A politician can’t lose the votes of people who would never vote for him or her in the first places. I doubt Trump lost any votes by recognizing Jerusalem, and he may have marginalized Democrats among some voters. In that sense, Trump was not acting rashly.


  • Reply Ari February 11, 2018 at 7:03 am

    Sad that you couldn’t be more wrong. Hamas and their ilk were calling for a 3rd, murderous intifada and days of rage (how peace loving) long before Trump’s declaration. Jerusalem is only holy to the other religions because it was holy to Jews first. Obama, Bush and Clinton promised the exact same thing without Adelson’s support but then caved under pressure and opted out. Had Obama kept his promise he’d be hailed for advancing the peace process. And this actually does advance the process by removing a key bargaining chip from the table. Recognizing a fact that Jerusalem (as holy as it is to others) is the undivided Jewish capital of the Jewish state brings us one issue closer to peace. Israel would never make a deal without it so therefore we’re now closer not further from peace even if the world is condemning it. Jerusalem and Israel as a whole, is not a 100-year aspiration or a 70-year aspiration or have anything to do with 1967. It is a 3000 year old aspiration documented in ancient Scrolls and in the hearts of a people long before there was Christianity or Islam. Jews will be despised in whichever sliver of land they seek to settle in and the Islamic world won’t be satisfied until all the lands of the Middle East, Africa and Europe are Jew free. Instead of condemning Jews and their supporters for standing up for themselves and declaring sovereignty, we should be condemning the widespread, hateful Islamic, anti – western, anti-Jewish hate that is a cancer in Europe.


  • Reply Maxwell February 23, 2018 at 7:14 am

    The decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem was made by Congress years ago, President Trump decided to honor that decision. The Palestinians are no longer going to intimidate the US and shape its foreign policy, the Palestinians had chosen terrorist organization Hamas to lead them, so it would be ridiculous to allow them to have any say in US policy.

    If the Palestinians still refuse to participate in peace negotiations the US will continue to cut aid to the Palestinians, the other UN members that opposed the US moving its Embassy can now step-up and replace that aid themselves. Trump had discovered the Palestinians are willing to hate the US for free, so there’s no need for the US to continue funding their violence and anti-American rhetoric.


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