Friday, December 08, 2017

Ten (or so) snap judgments on Trump’s Jerusalem pronouncement

1. What Korean Peninsula? Trump has a knack for diverting attention from issues he'd rather you not focus on.

2. What Mueller investigation? What Russian/WikiLeaks/campaign collusion? You get the idea. Diversion is key to Trump's maddening Modus operandi.

3. What Russian entrenchments in Syria? What bad deal for Israel on the Syrian side of Golan Heights? What Iranian takeover of Iraq?

Forget all those -- focus onTrump's "recognition" of Jerusalem.

4.  BTW. The Russians already recognized west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in April 2017. Trump, in practice" didn't even recognize west Jerusalem (even as a start).

4.  * Passports of US children born in Jerusalem will not be marked “Jerusalem, Israel.”

- Do you really think Washington needs three years or more to begin the process of building an embassy? How about putting a plaque: “Embassy of the USA” on the wall of the newly-built and well-fortified US Consulate in Talpiot, Jerusalem?

6. Nothing in Trump's statement changes the status quo, as the president himself said. By the way, I think he did a good reading job without going off on a tangent about, say, the size of the inauguration audience.  But if you actually watch his announcement all the way through you can see it took a toll.

7. Trump signed the very same waiver presidents before him signed (that didn’t make it into the speech).

8. He may have set the stage for a new tidal wave of Palestinian Arab violence.

9. Worse: His big empty gesture sets the stage for the "great" deal-maker to exact a steep price for “recognizing” Jerusalem.

The administration will supposedly unveil its proposed deal in early 2018.

Funnily, tragically, the Arabs don't see this and neither do the Trump-supporting Jews in the US and in Israel.

Or maybe...

If I’m right that Trump’s “recognition” of Jerusalem was intended to pave the way for heavy-handed pressure on Israel to make dangerous territorial concessions to the PLO – it might (counter-intuitively) explain Abbas’s violent reaction. Because, actually, Abbas does not want to make a real and lasting peace in which the Palestinian Arabs would have to come to terms with a Jewish national home in some part of “Palestine.” This situation recalls Ehud Barak’s go-for-broke offer to Yasser Arafat at Camp David II. Rather than take the best deal the Palestinian Arabs had ever been offered – he launched the second intifada.

10. Keep your eye on the ball: US policy since 1967 is to push Israel back to the hard-to-defend 1949 Armistice Lines (give or take) and Trump’s pronouncement doesn’t change that. Read the text.

So, what we have is, in principle, the right idea delivered ineptly by the Wrong Man at the Wrong Time in the wrong way.

With all that, it is sadly not surprising that Europe is again siding with the Arabs and that the Arabs -- following their 100-year script -- are turning to violence.

(*) h/t to IMRA for helping me crystallize this.

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