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Three things to know about Trump's trick in Jerusalem




Vice President Pence observes as President Trump signs a proclamation to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, on Wednesday. (Evan Vucci / AP)

President Trump announced on Wednesday a radical departure in Middle East policy from the United States by declaring US recognition that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. This recognition fulfilled a campaign promise and met a long-standing Israeli demand, while infuriating the Palestinians, the Arabs and most of the international community. While the US Embassy UU It will not move for years, and Trump carefully observed that the borders of Jerusalem would have to be determined through negotiations, there was a strong sense of irrevocable change.

Here are three things you should understand about the politics of Trump's stratagem in Jerusalem.

There is no real peace process to interrupt.

Much of the comment on recognition has focused on its impact on the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. This is probably exaggerated.

The state of Jerusalem has always been one of the key issues reserved for negotiations on the final status. Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has traditionally been understood as a major concession that could be offered to Israel in exchange for an agreement on other issues such as borders, settlements or the return of Palestinian refugees. Trump gave Israel this prize for nothing, while giving the Palestinians nothing in return. While preemptively giving away a principal currency seems like a strange negotiating tactic, several commentators and ex diplomats have argued that moving the US embassy. UU Jerusalem could help peace negotiations.

Most likely, the recognition of Jerusalem will have none of the promised benefits for the negotiations and relatively few of the costs threatened. This is not because Jerusalem does not matter, but because there is no real peace process that disturbs, a meaningless perspective of a two-state solution to waste, and little belief in the neutrality of the US. UU To rape.

Despite occasional diplomacy, there has been no significant Israeli-Palestinian peace process since the 2000 failure of the Camp David Summit of the Clinton administration. The Bush administration began the peace talks only late and with little effect. The Obama administration quickly withdrew from its more serious commitment to peace talks in the face of political reaction, the stalemate in negotiations and the need to focus on other critical priorities such as Iran's nuclear agreement. In the decades that have passed, realities on the ground have changed enormously, and probably irrevocably, in ways that have made a two-state solution unsustainable.

Recognition does matter for the US regional strategy. UU

However, it does matter that Trump's stratagem derails the peace negotiations, which for a long time have played an important role in facilitating other regional objectives. The visible quest for peace, if not its achievement, has long been the mechanism by which the United States reconciles its alliances with Israel and with the ostensibly anti-Israel Arab states. Trump's bet has less to do with peace than with whether this coverage is still necessary.

Despite its tactical incoherence and messages, the Trump administration has followed a fairly clear strategy in the Middle East that is within normal limits. At the broadest level, Trump seeks to unite the major Arab states and Israel in a strategic alliance against Iran and Islamic extremism. There is nothing new about such ambition. Each US administration UU He has tried to reconcile the contradictions of the simultaneous alliance with Israel and with the main Arab states. Each administration has concluded, either initially or after hard experience, that the search for Israeli-Palestinian peace is necessary to maintain that regional architecture. With Egypt and Jordan linked to the peace treaties negotiated by the United States, the focus of these efforts has been Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states.

Trump's bet in Jerusalem is not so much about the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians – the Israeli alliance against Iran can be achieved in his absence. The tacit cooperation of Israel with the Gulf states against Iran, long kept in the shadow, has been increasingly open despite the lack of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The Jerusalem stratagem may well force a public calculation on this semi-private alignment.

Regional policy will determine if the bet is successful

The main trends in regional politics may well make this bet worthwhile. Saudi Arabia and its key partners have made it clear that they see regional confrontation with Iran as their most urgent strategic priority. The Arab regional policy is deeply polarized and fragmented, partly due to the half-year campaign between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against Qatar. The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, has delighted in breaking the rules in the course of his rapid consolidation of power. After his surprising arrest of hundreds of princes, treatment of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and stubborn contempt for the humanitarian costs of the Yemeni blockade, who could rule out another transgression against the old rules of Arab politics?

Palestinian Territories continues to be one of the few unifying themes among these deeply divided Arab audiences. There is no doubt that the Arabs still care deeply about the Palestinian territories, or that Jerusalem has a particularly outstanding emotional and political resonance. This concern may be latent, but the research of the survey and the data from social networks show that it is real and intense. The key question is whether this public opinion can have a significant effect on the policies of the Arab states. The attention of the Arab public in recent years has focused on the wars in Syria and Yemen, and the internal political turbulence. Public mobilization in most Arab countries faces obstacles after the hard resurgence of brutal forms of authoritarianism.

Arab regimes have so far aligned themselves with public anger over Jerusalem, suggesting that they understand the need to be careful. A regional approach in the Palestinian territories would tip the political balance away from the Saudi Arabian bloc and the United Arab Emirates and could offer its Qatari rivals a political lifeline. Even the Arab regimes closely aligned with the United States have publicly criticized the recognition of Jerusalem, and have allowed critical views to appear, even in the media and public space normally controlled. They are likely to fear losing political ground in Qatar, as well as Iran, popular movements or media platforms such as Al Jazeera, which embrace the mobilization for Jerusalem. Nor can they avoid fearing anything that returns the protests to the streets, reviving the hopes of political change from below that the regimes have systematically sought to extinguish in the last five years.

So far, the dynamic is similar to the political consequences of Israel's wars against Hamas in Gaza. The key question is whether the Arab regimes do more to protest the recognition, or return to cooperation with the United States and Israel against Iran once the passions have vanished. It is likely that the Trump administration is right that they will do so quickly, unless there is a serious and sustained Palestinian mobilization that forces them to take a tougher stance.


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