The Corner

National Security & Defense

Trump Breaks a Campaign Promise for the Fantasy of Middle East Peace

Read carefully this statement from the White House:

I’m not surprised that Donald Trump is breaking (for now, at least) his promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Given his track record, no one should believe a word he says until they see real-world results. But while I’m not surprised, I’m certainly disappointed. He refused to pay the small (but important) diplomatic price of an embassy move for the sake of the fantasy that Palestinians actually want to make peace. 

Trump just signaled in no uncertain terms that certain Middle East “norms” still apply to him, including the “norm” that the diplomatic community won’t truly acknowledge Israel’s current and ancient capital as its true capital . . . all because it doesn’t want to offend a gang of criminals and terrorists. 

To understand the importance of Trump’s action, a bit of history is necessary. Under the original U.N. partition plan, Palestine was to be split into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem placed under international control. The Palestinians and their Arab allies not only rejected this plan, they launched a war of extermination against Israel. They lost. In 1967, Arab armies once again massed to threaten Israel’s existence. Israel struck first, and in the Six-Day War captured all of Jerusalem. The Arab world has since rejected a number of peace proposals that would return the vast majority of captured land back to the Palestinians, including plans that would allow the Palestinians to create a state with a capital located in Palestinian portions of East Jerusalem. 

The Palestinian position is rather simple. They believe that they can wage aggressive war without consequence. In other words, they believe they have the right — along with their Arab allies — to attempt to destroy Israel, lose their wars, then appeal to the international community to force the opposing sides to revert to the status quo. They also believe that they have the right to maintain, support, or encourage a permanent terrorist campaign without any consequence to their territorial ambitions. The international community’s decision to functionally acquiescence to these dangerous legal fictions is one of the factors that leads Palestinians to believe that they will ultimately prevail – that their consistent, insistent combination of diplomatic and terrorist pressure will cause Israel to relent.

To the extent there is any hope for peace, it will happen if and only if the Palestinians and their Muslim-world allies understand that Israel has a right to exist — permanently — as a Jewish state with Jerusalem as its capital. If the most powerful nation in the world puts its embassy in the heart of Jerusalem, that sends a clear message that the Palestinians have to adjust their expectations. When the most powerful nation in the world — and Israel’s strongest ally — plays the Palestinian’s game, it tells them to stay their dangerous and deadly course.

There is no peace in appeasement. Trump just got played. 

 

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