Analysis: What price will Israel have to pay for the U.S. embassy move?

Trump has given no real clues as to his plans.

By
August 23, 2018 00:43
2 minute read.
Analysis: What price will Israel have to pay for the U.S. embassy move?

A general view of Jerusalem shows the Dome of the Rock, located in Jerusalem's Old City on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount December 6, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

WASHINGTON – Ironically, if you had asked Israeli officials what diplomatic “gift” they wanted last Christmas, the relocation of America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would not have been at the top of the list.

The move was clearly welcome and the announcement was certainly dramatic. But US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the requisite embassy move were largely symbolic – and by the admission of his own administration, had no impact on Washington’s long-standing position that the fate of the holy city will have to be negotiated directly between Israelis and Palestinians.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The Americans said that Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital, in whole or in part, is simply a reality and would continue to be so. And realities must be the basis for future negotiations, they added.

What does this tell us, then, about Trump’s upcoming reciprocal move for the Palestinians, previewed on Tuesday night at a rally in West Virginia?
Bolton: There was never quid pro quo for Jerusalem embassy move, August 22, 2018 (Ziv Sokolov/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem)

“You know what, in the negotiation, Israel will have to pay a higher price because they won a very big thing – but I took it off the table,” Trump told the crowd, speaking of the Jerusalem decision. “They could never get past the fact of Jerusalem becoming the capital. Now it’s off the table – there’s nothing to negotiate. But they’ll get something very good ‘cause it’s their turn next. We’ll see what happens.”

Like the Israelis, Palestinians want of the Americans both symbolic acts – such as recognition of east Jerusalem as their own future capital, recognition of a Palestinian state or, at minimum, an embrace of the two-state solution – as well as tangible actions, such as aid and investment commitments.

But Trump’s Middle East peace team has given no indication that it is prepared to concede on either, removing all reference to an independent Palestinian entity in US State Department language, to an Israeli occupation of the West Bank or to Palestinian refugee claims. It has slashed aid to UN bodies related to the Palestinian cause and threatened major cuts to the Palestinian Authority itself.
Privately, members of the peace team do acknowledge that Israel’s permanent presence in the West Bank – both its military presence as well as the continued growth of settlements – is a hindrance to peace. So Trump might push the Israelis on this front in some way.

But he has already directed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “hold back” on settlement activity and to restrict building to existing settlement footprints – loose guidelines that the Israeli government has barely followed as it is. And even if Trump were to take a harder stance, it would only bring him in line with past administrations, all of which have agreed on the corrosive nature of the settlement enterprise and publicly admonished Israel for it.

Trump could state that Israel must choose between one of two future realities: a unitary, undemocratic state, or two states for two peoples requiring an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. Since his peace team says it will negotiate based on “realities,” Trump may “take off the table” a dream of the Israeli Right that they can have their cake and eat it, too.

But Trump has given no real clues as to his plans. To quote one of his favorite refrains: We’ll see what happens.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks in Ramallah
September 18, 2018
PA to pay family of Fuld’s murderer NIS 1,400 a month for 3 years

By GIL HOFFMAN