The New Yorker:
President Trump threw a diplomatic bomb into the Middle East peace process with his twin decisions to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv. The decision broke with seven decades of U.S. policy by both Republican and Democratic Administrations. It defied every ally, save Israel, and disregarded a last-ditch global campaign that included key figures from the world’s three monotheistic religions—Pope Francis, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and American Jewish groups. Trump’s decision fulfilled a campaign promise, but it threatened to unravel one of his top foreign-policy pledges: to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, who have already called for “three days of rage” in response.
In a brief statement read off teleprompters at the White House, Trump called his decision a “new approach to the conflict” and a long-overdue and “necessary step” to enhance the peace process. “Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done,” he said.
For the first time, the President expressed support for a two-state solution—if the two sides ultimately embrace that formula as the solution. This was not a concession, however, given that his Republican and Democratic predecessors endorsed the two-state concept as well. Trump also stipulated that his decision was not intended to influence the final boundaries or borders of either state. Vice-President Mike Pence will travel to the region soon to reinforce the U.S. commitments, Trump said.
“There will of course be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement,” Trump said. “But we are confident that, ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a place of greater understanding and coöperation.” He added, “We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians.”
The curious and almost contradictory aspect of Trump’s announcement was the timing, particularly since the move may not happen until a new Embassy is found or built, which could take as long as three or four years, U.S. officials say. In his statement, Trump said only that the current approach to the peace process had failed to work and a change was needed.
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