Palestinians watch Trump's speech Ahmad Gharabli/Getty Images

Donald Trump Versus Mideast Peace

The US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel comes in defiance of overwhelming global opposition. The message is clear: the Trump administration is determined to dictate the Israeli version of peace with the Palestinians, rather than to mediate an equitable agreement between the two sides.

JERUSALEM – In a matter of three weeks, the United States government has attacked the Palestinian people on three fronts. First, on November 17, President Donald Trump’s administration announced its decision (subsequently reversed) to close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s diplomatic office in Washington, DC. Then, on December 5, the US Congress voted unanimously to adopt the Taylor Force Act, which blocks aid to the Palestinian Authority from 2018 to 2024, unless the PA stops paying monthly salaries and other benefits to the families of killed or convicted Palestinian militants. But it was the third attack, which came the following day, that will prove most devastating to efforts to achieve peace.

In defiance of overwhelming global opposition, not to mention past United Nations General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, Trump announced that the US will officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The message is clear: the Trump administration is determined to dictate the Israeli version of peace with the Palestinians, rather than to mediate an equitable agreement between the two sides.

Of course, that is not how Trump’s administration presents it. As the New York Times reported just before the announcement, Trump administration officials believe the decision, which entails moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, could actually hasten the peace process, “by removing a source of ambiguity from the American position.” After all, they point out, the embassy question comes up every six months, when the president has to sign a new waiver to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv – a process that, from their perspective, repeatedly stokes political tension.

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