NOTE: I will be doing a Reddit AMA (Q&A) in r/Palestine this Wednesday at 11am Pacific time. Join the discussion.
Ah, to be in the Land of Trump, where nothing is as it seems. And what something seems means virtually nothing.
For a reason known only to the Mind of Trump, he announced last Friday that he would tell the world on Wednesday that the U.S. would relocate its embassy to Jerusalem and henceforth recognize the holy city as the capital of Israel.
If he released this policy announcement as a way to test the waters, it went over like a lead balloon. The Israelis, who had to be immensely pleased that Trump was giving them a free holiday gift, were silent. Probably deliberately so. Their approbation would be the kiss of death for the Arab world.
But by Saturday, the Palestinians made known that they had complained vehemently to just about anyone who would listen what a shaft the deal was. Abbas also revealed the blackmail attempted by Crown Prince bin Salman, which even involved the offer of a personal bribe to Abbas himself. Ouch!
Then earlier today, an apparently chastened Saudi Arabia denounced the Jerusalem plan. France’s Pres. Macron also added the Euro-coup de grace, saying the Trump notion was ill-advised. The French way of saying “yer out of yur friggin’ mind!”
Even Trump’s national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, purported not to have a clue what Trump would say on Wednesday. I thought to myself: either this is a smart marketing ploy to drum up excitement; or it’s f*&kin’ scary that even Trump’s most senior security official hasn’t a clue what the boss is thinking. Turns out, it appears it was the latter.
Which leads to the question: what was he thinking? Of course he wasn’t thinking. Just like he “thinks” with his gonads regarding women, he thinks with his mouth regarding politics.
An old Mose Allison lyric says: “your mind is on vacation and your mouth is working overtime.” That’s Donald Trump.
So he has not just shot himself in the foot regarding the Jerusalem proposal, by backing off it. He’s also done perhaps irreparable damage to his overall, and much touted, Israel-Palestine peace plan. Who will believe a word of it? Who will believe that at the first hint of opposition he won’t renounce it?
Add to the mix, the catastrophic news that Michael Flynn had turn state’s evidence against his erstwhile comrades in arms in the Trump administration; and that the charges to which he pled guilty involved sabotaging U.S. foreign policy opposing Israeli settlements; and that the next domino to fall might be Jared Kushner himself…well, you can see where this is going. Jared is charged with shepherding the peace agreement to final approval. If he’s under a legal cloud or even indicted, both he and the peace deal will be dead meat.
And even if this ill-conceived peace proposal sinks into the dustbin of the history of failed Middle East peace plans, all we’ve done is prevented a major disaster. The minor disaster of having no modus vivendi in place to guide Israeli-Palestinian affairs, remains in place. Which means that more wars are in store. And many more thousands of Israeli Jews, Arabs and Muslims must die. It’s a fact of life. A dirty, senseless fact of life.
And if Trump does, against all odds, move forward with a plan to move the embassy to Jerusalem there are two options. The U.S. could expand an existing U.S. consulate in West Jerusalem; or it could build a new embassy on land leased by the State of Israel to the U.S. government in 1989 expressly for this purpose. However, this plot (see picture above) located in the historic Talpiot neighborhood is heavily contested. Palestinians contend that the land was confiscated from 1948 refugees driven from the city. At least one plot on the property belonged/belongs to the Islamic Waqf. None of these parties has sold or waived their interest in their land. I imagine that this rubble strewn, abandoned lot is pretty much what Trump’s current Middle East policy look like…