Thursday, December 14, 2017

No Trump Card



The United State has for long linked the recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel to achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians. President Trump’s recent decision on this matter reverses the policy and does so at a time when the government of PM Netanyahu continues to pursue expansion of illegal settlements in Palestinian territories and maintains its suffocating blockade of the Gaza Strip with devastating consequences for the local population. Moreover, the absence of any serious peace initiative at this stage means that the Palestinians have nothing to give them hope or make them trust that the Trump Administration knows what it’s doing. As such, they have no reason to hedge their bets on a possible future breakthrough.

Additionally, the Trump Administration’s confusing approach when it comes to policymaking, consisting of vague leaks followed by categorical announcements by President Trump, then, a series of clashing statements made by his officials, which only serve to further muddy the waters rather than clarify things, all aspects of this troubling behavior cannot but inspire mistrust and consternation.

Meanwhile, the overall geopolitical context in the region clearly favors Iran and its allies and their Machiavellian resistance discourse. The policies of the past two administrations, which the current administration, its anti-Iran rhetoric notwithstanding, continues to amplify, have seen to that.

This is where the problem lies for me, not in the recognition itself, -- after all, those who want peace cannot but be prepared for recognition, -- but in the fact that it’s taking place now, within this particular geopolitical context and at the behest of an administration that inspires little confidence in most people and seems to be motivated by a set of concerns and priorities that are wholly unrelated to regional realities.

Still, considering the wave of pronouncements from all over the world denouncing the decision and calling for the recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian State, something positive might still come out of this mess, albeit in spite rather than because of the Trump Administration’s policies.

But, with the U.S. effectively shut out, will Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Russia prove effective mediators in future peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians? For the sake of both peoples, and irrespective of any objections that one may have regarding the behavior of the leaders involved on all sides, one must maintain hope.