This week Donald Trump took credit for fulfilling a campaign promise to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. That was likely an inevitable move, so what could be wrong with doing what Jared Kushner says is taking that issue off the table?
Politics is the art of the possible that often involves negotiating with options no-one likes. In the world of 2018, the official position of the two main parties are:
- PALESTINE: Israel is an illegal state and must be eliminated likely through genocide
- ISRAEL: Palestinians cannot be trusted under any scenario and must be driven out of their land with genocide as an acceptable option (but not one that is publicly spoken of)
These two crude positions are intractable and very well documented.
So what did Donald Trump, the great negotiator, get wrong in his art of the deal? Other than some very short term support from extremists in his base, he got nothing in return. In chess speak, he traded is queen for a pawn.
In the video below New York Times Columnist Tom Friedman explains that Donald Trump gave away one of the most effective levers in Israeli – Palestinian politics. He goes on to explain how the Israeli Palestinian conflict will eventually be resolved with a two state solution.
Below is a machine transcription of this video:
Let’s go back to a cushion or said Fareed that this by moving the embassy to Jerusalem recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital the United States has taken that off the table that stuff and nonsense. Only Israelis and Palestinians can take that off the table and Israelis know that and Palestinians know that.
So let me speak in terms of Trump’s own language. You know they claim this was in advance of the peace process. Well you know if I were Trump and actually wanted to use this as an advance of the peace process what would you actually have done. What would it. What would a sane intelligent wise president done if he was insisting on do this move. He would have come to Netanyahu and said “Bibi I’m going to recognize Jerusalem as your capital without defining west or east Jerusalem. But here’s what I’m going to get in return. I’m going to get a freeze on all Israeli settlements beyond the settlement blocks. No more Israeli settlements ever again deep inside Palestinian territory anywhere outside the settlement blocks. You want that.” I want this.
Then he could have at least gone to Abu Mazen again if this is Trump and say look I’m a Muslim. I know you don’t like this but I got you something Obama never got. I got a freeze on Israeli settlements outside the settlement blocks. I mean that would have been the art of the deal. What Trump did was the art of the giveaway. He actually gave away one of the most valuable leverage tools in American Middle East diplomacy for free actually free to was worse than free. It was actually a bit of diplomatic pornography because when you bring in a bunch of far right evangelical speakers to inaugurate this new embassy when you bring in a bunch of far right ultra orthodox really outside the mainstream of American Jewry you’re actually moving this embassy as part of a mid-term election. Sheldon Adelson wrote a thirty million dollar check to the GOP shortly before this embassy move. This was diplomatic pornography basically designed to advance the Republican midterm agenda.
You want to make a point that you are making a difference. You make a point. We like all kinds of points about how bad the Israelis are. And they all had to point out Hamas is all kinds of points about how corrupt the Palestinian leadership is and how actual it is we can win this today and in which case this conflict is going to go on for another generation.
My own approach is I don’t want to make a point. I want to make a difference. I might bring my imagination. How we find some way for these two people who share this land. I see all the way out. If Palestinians can feel and take their shoes off the Israelis won’t be able to have Israelis can’t go home and take their shoes off. Palestinians will not be able to unless we sit down and for on the basis of what we all know is the right solution. Back to the Clinton parameters. Nothing’s going to change and we’re just going to have this endless cycle of delay and yelling.