Published:  01:14 AM, 08 December 2017

Trump blunders over Jerusalem


President Trump's decision to shift his country's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem flies in the face of global opinion and history. And that is not all. By his unilateral move, which is nothing but an attempt to shore up his position among his core group of supporters in the face of his falling poll numbers, Trump has signaled yet one more instance of American decline on his watch.

The reality today, as it has been since the June 1967 war when Israeli forces occupied the eastern section of Jerusalem, a step that later led to an annexation of the city home to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, is that Jerusalem has not been accepted as Israel's capital by the international community. By letting the world know that the US now considers the city the capital of Israel, President Trump has not only demonstrated defiance of global opinion but has pushed his country further into isolationist mode.

The US President's decision puts in jeopardy the moves made so far to have Israeli and Palestinian leaders work out a peace deal between themselves, one that is based on a two-state solution. A core point in the search for peace in the Middle East has always been the idea that east Jerusalem will be the capital of an eventual independent state of Palestine.

 It is a principle the world has not disagreed with, despite maneouvres by such men as Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister, to have foreign embassies based in Tel Aviv shift to Jerusalem. Mr. Trump has now poured cold water on the idea, thereby making sure that his country will now not have the kind of voice it has so far had in negotiations over a Palestinian-Israeli deal.

The good bit emerging from Trump's decision is the unanimity of opinion it has helped forge among the wider international community all the way from Asia to the Middle East to Europe. The unanimity is of course the opposition to and condemnation of the US move. Under the Trump presidency, therefore, all chances of a US-brokered deal for Israel and Palestine have now been erased. Not until the next US administration arrives will one know if this damaging step Trump has taken can or will be reversed.

Donald Trump has endangered the peace process in the Middle East. He has also made it plain that on his watch the United States is fast becoming a parochial state in terms of global reach. His recent moves, such as the US withdrawal from Unesco, the upping of hostility toward Cuba and Iran and his endless tweet wars with the media in his country are clear pointers to the narrow alleys into which he is taking America. With Trump in the White House, the rest of the world cannot feel happy. As for America, it is certainly going through a nightmare. The nightmare promises to be long.


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