Skip to comments.The terrible cost of Trump's Jerusalem decision
Posted on 12/08/2017 2:20:41 PM PST by Eddie01
Donald Trump's formal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing some seven decades of American policy, is arguably the most unnecessary decision of his time in office and one that will have consequences lingering far past his tenure. The decision may yield some domestic political advantage among Jewish and evangelical Christian voters for the president, but at irrationally high expense globally.
Jerusalem is where Israel's president presides, and where the parliament, supreme court, and most government ministries are located. In practical terms, it is the capital. However, unlike in nearly every other nation, the United States maintains its formal embassy in another city, Tel Aviv. It keeps a consulate in West Jerusalem and a consular annex in East Jerusalem, the part of the city annexed by Israel in 1967 and expected by many Palestinians to be the capital of their future state. Washington also has an office directly on the Green Line, the division point between Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Diplomats, as well as Israeli officials, understand normally an embassy is the head office located in the capital, and a consulate is a less important branch located elsewhere. But they also know from experience in Israel which door to knock on when they need to get business done, regardless of what the nameplate reads out front.
This kind of thing is not unique to Israel. A similar system in Taiwan has kept the peace there.
In 1979 the United States recognized the reality of the People's Republic of China, with Beijing as its capital, and shifted formal relations from Taiwan. Instead of an embassy in Taipei, the United States established the American Institute in Taiwan. An actual registered non-governmental organization, the Institute benefits from the Department of State providing "a large part of funding and guidance in its operations," never mind the entire staff. Yet there is no ambassador at the Institute; the chief representative is called the director. A whole sitcom worth of diplomatic parlor tricks keeps the enterprise in Taipei not an embassy of the United States.
That all allows Washington, Taipei and Beijing to focus on the practical work of relations without having to address the never-gonna-resolve-it-in-our-lifetimes geopolitical questions first. That's why these things matter. That's why Trump's decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and relocate the embassy pulls down the curtain, turns on the lights, and spray-paints day-glo yellow the 500-pound gorilla in the room.
In the case of the United States and Jerusalem, the kabuki which has maintained the status quo is the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. Under the act, the American headquarters stayed in Tel Aviv, business was done as needed, and everyone with a hand in the complex politics of the Middle East could look whichever way best fit their needs.
That law did require the United States to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem by 1999, but a politically expedient loophole allowed presidents to issue a waiver of the requirement every six months for national security reasons, thereby preventing Congress from exercising its power to withhold half the funds appropriated to the State Department for overseas building operations if the deadline wasn't met.
Trump reluctantly issued the waiver a few months ago and then again just after announcing his recognition of Jerusalem, giving the State Department some bureaucratic breathing room on the funding issue while he plans to build a new structure somewhere in Jerusalem a project that could take years.
The Jerusalem Embassy Act was a practical solution, not a failed plan that did not lead to formal peace between the Palestinians and Israel as Trump characterized it. The shadowplay status of Jerusalem worked.
No more. Trump's action demands all players set aside whatever other issues they have in Israel, not the least of which is the Palestinian peace process, and instead take a stand on America's changed position.
Trumps decision has provoked a global uproar, with world leaders criticizing the move as irresponsible and dangerous. Of immediate concern is America's relationship with Jordan. Jordan has thrown in heavily with the United States, allowing its territory to be used as an entry point into Syria for American aid. The United States and Jordan broadly have a robust and multi-layered security arrangement, working well together in the war on Islamic State. It has been a steady relationship, albeit one often based on personal ties more than formal agreements, according to several American diplomats I spoke with.
Yet following Trump's announcement, Jordans King Abdullah II warned of "dangerous repercussions on the stability and security of the region." The issue of Jerusalem runs deep in Jordan: it was Abdullah's father, King Hussein, who lost East Jerusalem to Israel in the 1967 war, and Abdullah himself, under a 2013 agreement between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, is the custodian of the Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. American diplomats working in Amman will find every facet of the relationship colored and their skills tested no Arab ruler can be seen being publicly pushed around, perhaps humiliated, by the United States.
A second blow could come in Washington's relationship with Egypt. More so than Jordan, Egypt's rulers must act in awareness of public opinion, with memories of the Arab Spring still fresh. In response to Trump's announcement, Egyptian parliamentarians called for a boycott of American products, including weapons purchases. Egypt is also no stranger to the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism, and one Egyptian minister warned Trump's decision would shift focus from fighting terrorists to inflaming them. The role Jerusalem plays in the radical Islamic canon cannot be over-estimated. And all of this comes at a sensitive time: Cairo just reached a preliminary agreement to allow Russian military jets to use Egyptian airspace and bases for the first time since 1973.
In the coming days there will be violence and protests. But long after the tear gas clears, American diplomats will find themselves hamstrung entering negotiations on a full range of issues having to first somehow address the action taken by Trump. This is not an unnecessarily bombastic tweet that runs off the bottom of the page, or a crude remark which fades with the next news cycle: this time, the president overturned a working policy and the effects will resonate long after he leaves the White House.
Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of "We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People."
The Arab-Israeli conflict has been given life for decades by feckless politicians who kowtow to the rabid Palestinians. This gesture speaks volumes about our resolve to stand fast and our commitment to Israel.
Another State Dpt. “veteran” wrote a piece on how he had worked for Mid-East peace for 25 years and how Trump has now just thrown it all away. 25 years and not an inch of movement? Real good job, sir!! I agree with Trump: it’s time to try a new approach.
Just like with the DACCA issue - Ultimately it’s up to congress.
The president is just the implementer of the laws passed by congress.
If congress didn’t want the embassy moved to Jerusalem they have had ample time to change the law they passed in 1995.
Other presidents have promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem in order to get elected, then reneged on the promise once in office.
President Trump is the first president in my lifetime to make an honest effort to keep his campaign promises.
“Let Arab violence dictate U.S. policy”
Trump should have gone the extra step and actually moved the Embassy.
It could have been done instantly. Just change the name of our Consulate General in Jerusalem to “Embassy”.
(and that of our office in Tel Aviv to “Consulate General”)
the anti-American left continues to excrete this kind of garbage even after the fact? answer: ideologues and haters rarely recover and when one does it takes a very long time
I, for one, am VERY GLAD President Trump stopped the 70+ year embarrassment of America not having our embassy in Israel’s capital (the ONLY NATION ON EARTH we did this to, the ONLY one!...our embassy in Mexico isn’t in Tijuana, our embassy in Canada isn’t in Darwin, our embassy in UK isn’t in Leeds, our embassy in Germany isn’t in Frankfurt..).
2. And the anti-Semites who are prominent writing articles like this one...can (and will, see Genesis 12:3)) GTH!
3. Now I pray President Trump finally gets around to Draining the damned Swamp, including the Nazis and Islamics embedded in places like the Snake Department and all of Obama’s enemy agents and moles and spies he planted like in our defense, intelligence, and security agencies especially. Its been over 10 months with only very limited swamp draining, there’s a ton of cleaning up left to do now! (either DJT drains the swamp like he wants to, or else the swamp alligators are gonna keep undermining his administation..and eventually him, imho, they’ll find a way to pull him down if he doesn’t get rid of them !)
How about these State Department geniuses tell us how great Obama and Hillary handled Benghazi???
Trump just told the truth by his declaration, and changed the direction and motivations of the Palestinian leaders. He has more leverage now that they see it slipping away.
It was a slow frog boil of the west.
Trump just turned the burner off.
These criticisms, threats, melodrama and kabuki theater is pathetic. If I were Trump, I would tell these jerks to mind their own business, or we will close down our embassies in their countries.
Two points here:
1. The peaceful and tolerant muslims will be fine.
2. Our state department personnel can negotiate with people who will finally know our president will do what he says he will do.
Will Trump take the lead on the Jews building a temple on the Temple Mount?
That would be...exciting.
No one, and I mean NO ONE, truly wants to pick up or handle the turd that is Islam. Most nations and people, being weak, just try to avoid it. Eventually it should be buried, once and for all.
This snowflake should know that American policy
is decided by the US Congress and POTUS
and BOTH recognized Jerusalem.
That said, the author is not the sharpest
knife in the drawer as Jerusalem is the CAPITOL of Israel.
The creep who wrote this one is in the U.S.A., though. Accessed today at Wikipedia (title, source, date, link, author all here).
Peter van Buren
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Peter van Buren
Born 1960 (age 5657)
New York City, New York
Peter van Buren is a former United States Foreign Service employee who wrote the books Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent and We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.
1 Personal Life
2 Struggle with the Department of State
3 Published Books
Born in New York City, Peter Van Buren is a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Department of State. He spent a year in Iraq. Following his book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, the Department of State began proceedings against him. Through the efforts of the Government Accountability Project and the ACLU, Buren instead retired from the State Department with his full benefits of service.
Struggle with the Department of State
After 23 years of service at the State Department, Van Buren experienced a series of escalating, adverse actions. The State Department claimed Van Buren had not properly cleared his book for publication under Department rules and that it contained unauthorized disclosures of classified material.The Washington Post noted that “Van Buren has tested the First Amendment almost daily.”
After several months of legal battles, the State Department withdrew its intent to fire Van Buren and he instead retired with his standard pension and benefits.
Van Buren was Associate Producer for the film SILENCED, (2014) by James Spione.
Hooper’s War: A Novel of WWII Japan). Luminis Books. May 15, 2017. ISBN 978-1941311127.
Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent. Luminis Books. April 25, 2014. ISBN 978-1935462910.
We Meant Well. Metropolitan Books. September 27, 2011. ISBN 9780805094367.
Why Peace (as a contributor). Marc Guttman. April 23, 2012. ASIN B007WTUR6E.
Israel has won battle after battle and war after war.
They get to name their capital, and we should support them.
“That law did require the United States to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem by 1999-——”
Just another law being ignored-——until now.
24 years. That shows a hire date in 1993. That was the first year of the Clinton Administration.
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