Trump’s announcement: A big deal that may not actually change much


TIMES OF ISRAEL – In announcing US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, President Donald Trump spoke loud and clear — except when he didn’t.

That’s not to say that Israel and many of its supporters weren’t thrilled with what many called the “long overdue” acknowledgement by the United States that Israel gets to say where its own capital is. But Trump was cautious, celebrating Israel’s control of the entire city, yet insisting that he was not recognizing Israel’s control of the entire city; taking Israel’s side on a decades-long dispute, but also saying that “we are not taking a position of any final status issues.”

Here are a few other things the president said and didn’t say.

The announcement is a significant break with his predecessors.

Congress recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 1995, but the executive branch until now has taken pains — all the way up to the Supreme Court — to resist doing the same. In the wake of the 1949 armistice, the US administration officially sought international status for Jerusalem. After peace talks with the Palestinians began in the early 1990s, the position shifted to leaving it up to the sides to decide what the final status of the city should be. Since then, Trump’s predecessors have signed twice-yearly waivers keeping the US Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Trump is the first president to unreservedly embrace the 1995 law.

“In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act, urging the federal government to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that that city — and so importantly — is Israel’s capital,” he said. “That is why, consistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

Trump embraced Israel’s narrative of stewardship.

The president seemed to embrace a narrative of Israeli stewardship of the entire city that might have been written in the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: It’s not just good for Israel, or for the Jews, it’s good for the city and those who love it.

“Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world,” Trump said. “Over the past seven decades, the Israeli people have built a country where Jews, Muslims and Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and according to their beliefs. Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa mosque.”

That’s not a narrative that Palestinians would countenance; they say restrictive security measures keep Muslims and Christians from easily reaching holy sites.

A letter Wednesday from 13 leaders of Jerusalem churches, representing the range of Christian denominations in the holy city, reflected a far less rosy picture of interfaith relations there. It urged Trump not to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying that tensions in the city argue against such a recognition.

“The Holy City can be shared and fully enjoyed once a political process helps liberate the hearts of all people, that live within it, from the conditions of conflict and destructiveness that they are experiencing,” the letter said.

The announcement sets a precedent for others.

Until 1980, a dozen or so nations recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and kept embassies in or near the city. That year, Israel passed one of several laws that claimed the entire city as its capital. Countries with embassies in the city, unable to withstand pressure from the Arab world, pulled out.

With a superpower’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital and Trump’s stated intention to move the embassy there from Tel Aviv, other countries may be less shy about following suit. Indeed, on Wednesday afternoon, the  Czech Republic said it recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (and the “future capital of both states,” Israel and the future Palestine).

This isn’t the final say on Jerusalem.

Once peace talks were launched by Israel and the Palestinians in 1993, the US position has been that the sides should hash out what the boundaries are in and around Jerusalem. Since the Camp David talks in 2000, the operating presumption among US negotiators has been that Israel and Palestine would share the city, with an international arrangement at the most sensitive sites in the Old City. In recent years, however, Netanyahu has insisted that the city will remain “undivided” under Israeli control.

“Undivided” and its synonyms did not make an appearance in Trump’s remarks. Instead, he said, work out the borders yourselves.

“We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders,” he said. “Those questions are up to the parties involved.”

The embassy isn’t going anywhere — for now.

Trump, as noted, said he was directing the State Department to start planning the embassy’s move to Jerusalem. Top aides, speaking the previous evening to reporters, said it would take years for such a move — perhaps close to a decade — and that no one had been scouting for sites.

The Temple Mount status quo is … status quo.

“I call on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites, including the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif,” Trump said.

The status quo on the Temple Mount — holy to Muslims and Jews — right now is that the Wakf, a Muslim authority that Israel’s government sees as hypernationalist, controls access. Jordan also has a say in its running.

Netanyahu, who has resisted right-wing members of Israel’s governing coalition who want to ease access for Jewish worshippers, is all about maintaining the status quo. Still, Trump cautioning him to keep it that way — and in language that his predecessors have used — must sound awfully familiar.

Trump couldn’t resist a dig at his predecessors.

“Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace,” Trump said, referring to the waiver option, renewable every six months, built into the 1995 law. “Some say they lacked courage, but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time.”

Got that? Maybe it was a lack of guts, but let’s be generous — it may just have been a lack of smarts.

“While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver,” Trump said. “Today, I am delivering.”

  1. #1 by lobro on 12/07/2017 - 9:34

    Top aides, speaking the previous evening to reporters, said it would take years for such a move — perhaps close to a decade

    what a joke … and just who will be the president in a decade, trump? (let’s hope so 😉 )
    maybe he can replace pence with putin as vp of ruso-american union and the 2 swap every 4 years.

    every thanksgiving, the president spares the life of one lucky rabbi …

  2. #2 by Jimmy the lock on 12/08/2017 - 9:34

    Trump is not pro-Israel.. are you for real dude?!?

    ed note–no one has said, intimated, suggested, sneezed, coughed, or burped the notion that Trump is not ‘pro-Israel’. Being pro-israel however also includes those who try and rein her in so that she dos not self-destruct and in the process take the world down with her, and this is what Trump is attempting to do.

  3. #3 by Jimmy the lock on 12/08/2017 - 9:34

    “Trump is not Pro-Israel” is written on the banner in the photo that accompanies the article. This suggests or intimates or sneezes or burps something pretty clear doesn’t it?
    When you then, in your comments associate Trump’s actions with the notion that he is attempting to rein Israel in despite all evidence to the contrary it seems to me there is a lot of wishful thinking going on…

    ed note–my/our apologies, you must be new here.

    The banner is one of many which began appearing (proliferating, really) since the start of the 2016 campaign where Jews and Jewish groups made it a front-and-center issue that they did not like Trump and that one of the reasons they didn’t was that they perceived him as ‘anti-Israel’, which they still do.

    And yes, it may appear like wishful thinking on my part, but the fact is that even after this latest announcement concerning Jerusalem, after the clapping and celebrations are over, the Jews will go back to complaining/kvetching about him once he starts making the push for the ‘ultimate’ peace deal with the Palestinians.

  4. #4 by Walter on 12/08/2017 - 9:34

    one reigns in Israel so that she doesn’t self-destruct by pronouncing Jerusalem Israel’s capitol?

    It’s absurd that he proclaims that this will help the peace process! LOL! Tell that to the Palestinians, who are on the verge of a new Intifada. The Israelis will pay a price for this; perhaps that’s why Trump did it(?)

  5. #5 by pacman925 on 12/08/2017 - 9:34

    Perhap’s ? Bibi & Trump are NWO brothers.

    ed note–or perhaps (?) Trump is laying the ground work in establishing his Bona Fides as having Israel’s ‘best interests at heart’ as a preparatory move for what he intends to accomplish with the ‘ultimate’ peace deal with the Palestinians.

  6. #6 by Gwaredd Thomas on 12/09/2017 - 9:34

    “…for what he intends to accomplish with the ‘ultimate’ peace deal with the Palestinians”.

    Sure, with that idiot Jared Kushner leading the charge. Kushner couldn’t negotiate his way home.

  7. #7 by Jimmy the lock on 12/16/2017 - 9:34

    Thank you for your apology and clarifying the context. Although first time commenting I’m actually a long time follower of your blog. I have only stopped reading over the last year or so because of what I see as your unerring faith in Trump as a savior. I only just came back to your site recently and saw that banner and commented as I felt you are still clinging to a false hope.

    Can’t you see that the US just plays out Israeli left and right wing politics? Trump is just the other side of the coin to Obama, yet they are all just gimps who are playing out the agenda. I do believe that Trump’s actions will be devastating for the criminal Israeli state in the end but not because of some deliberate plan by Donald Trump.

    The problem now for them is that the US empire is crumbling so its now or never for Israel. The geopolitical game has changed and everyone knows it. They didn’t predict or prepare for the rapid rise of Russia and their alliance with China. IS is defeated and the axis of evil Israel/Saudi Arabia/US have lost in Syria and American power is waning. Many countries are turning away from the Anglo-Zionist way of doing things and not a moment too soon. They could start a war of course to prevent the change but doubtful they can win in any sense of the word.

    ed note–I gave up some time ago engaging in this kind of pointless stating of the obvious, but in this case I’ll make an exception since you were at least able to make your statement in a rational manner–

    1. My ‘unerring faith in Trump as a savior’. Wrong. I/we have never said this, not even hinted at it. What we have said, over and over and over again, that somehow just does not seem to connect with certain people suffering from either hearing loss or tunnel vision, is that we are confident that Trump will NOT succeed in what he has set out to do as the forces arrayed against him are just simply too strong.

    Now, let me say this again, in bold lettering that should stick with people’s memories, although I know that five minutes after this response is posted I’ll be getting a comment here from some dimwit alleging that I/we maintian an ‘unerring faith in Trump as a savior.’


    ok, now let’s move on to the next item–

    ‘Can’t you see that the US just plays out Israeli left and right wing politics?’

    Yes, we see it, have studied, written about, commented on it for years. You’re not dealing with novices here who just happened to grow an interest in politics a few months ago.

    What is different here is that BOTH sides of the left/right Judaic political divide are against Trump and have been since before he announced his candidacy, There has never been, at least as far as American leaders go–this kind of across-the-board screeching campaign against an American politician in the history of the United States. Trump has NO support from the Jews, left or right, the obvious and unassailable proof of which are the hundreds (thousands?) of articles that have been published over the last 2 years by both Likud and Labor operatives here in the US who have locked arms in their drive to see Trump removed.

    As far as the rest, there is a great deal of truth to what you say, but honestly, given the utter inanity and disconnect appearing in the first 2 comments, the 2 sides more or less cancel each other out in terms of any credibility that the rest of your argument (s) may have.

  8. #8 by Jimmy the lock on 12/17/2017 - 9:34

    Not once have I insulted you like you have me shows the kind of man you are. You can say what you like but if you are getting these kind of comments every day then you are clearly incoherent in your message because that is how you come across. In any case don’t worry you won’t here from me again on your hate-filled little blog…

    ed note–there were no insults directed at you in the least. I took what you wrote and responded in the only way that was appropriate and, given as out in left field as some of it was, completely warranted. I gave you credit for at least being rational in your delivery, despite the fact that what you said was out in left field, and gave you credit for the other things you wrote which did have some truth to them.

    The fact that your feelings were bruised indicates what I have been saying all along about those who are reactive to the drama surrounding Trump rather than reflective–it is all about emotions. Rather than paying close attention to things and weighing them using critical thinking, they let ‘feelings’ get involved, which I think has been aptly demonstrated in your irrational reaction to my response.

    Either way, you are making at least one logical decision here in leaving, as the things that are being discussed are taking place at a level which you do not find comfortable for your own emotional equilibrium.

  9. #9 by Jimmy the lock on 12/17/2017 - 9:34

    For someone who says that they have given up engaging in these kinds of discussions you seem to want to enage a lot. Must have hit a nerve. My feelings are not bruised and you haven’t disturbed me in the slightest, I was simply pointing out your insulting attitude. Perhaps you have been consumed with this stuff for so long that you don’t realize what you do. No you don’t say it directly but you make comments like “some dimwit alleging that I/we maintain an ‘unerring faith in Trump as a savior.” This is suggestive….t doesn’t encourage intelligent debate it creates division. As I said I haven’t been following your site for a while now so haven’t heard you make these statements before. I have now learnt my lesson and will make sure I go back and study every word someone says about everything in the future before I comment on anything.

    The key thing is this you believe that “BOTH sides of the left/right Judaic political divide are against Trump and have been since before he announced his candidacy…” I strongly disagree that is all, no big deal, and I have been studying and researching these matters for many years with a clear mind. Anyway, these are just our opinions of course, we will see what unfolds…

    ed note–no, I don’t ‘engage’ a lot. The only reason I responded to yours was because you expressed yourself in a reasonable and respectful manner as opposed to the usual comments we get here that are not expressed thus.

    Didn’t hit a nerve at all, other than the chronic aggravation that accompanies being forced to point out the obvious for the one millionth time to people who should/could/would know better if they just paid better attention.

    ‘Some dimwit’–no I was not referring to you but rather the other guy (who did indeed follow in your footsteps saying almost word for word the exact same thing you did).

    There is no more ‘intelligent debate’ on this matter. When you are dealing with ideologues who have embraced certain notions based on solely their emotions rather than on facts, then intelligent debate is rendered impossible, something I have learned ‘up close and personal’ in all the decades I have been doing this, and the ‘Trump is owned by the Jews’ theme is one of those, similar to the ‘They hate us for our freedom’ business following 9/11, followed by those who believed that the ‘Arab Spring’ was the real deal rather than a western/zionist op aimed at creating new upheaval in the region, to the ‘No one died at Sandy Hook’ nonsense all the way forward to now with the ‘Trump is owned by the Jews’ biz.

    And yes, “BOTH sides of the left/right Judaic political divide are against Trump and have been since before he announced his candidacy…” and has been proven beyond any debate to be the case. Whether it is people on the ‘left’ like the gommbahs at the ADL or whether it is those on the right such as William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Elliot Abrams, Podhorowitz, Wolfowitz (I could go on for an hour listing all the ‘biggies’ amongst the neocons who opposed and continue to oppose Trump) it is indeed both wings of the Judaic vulture that oppose him, a fact we documented here on this site for almost 2 years, republishing each and every one of the hundreds of OpEds they wrote trying to bring Trump down.

    Or perhaps you weren’t paying attention to those pieces? If so, then this obviously accounts for your own misconceptions/miscalculations concerning Trump and the forces that are arrayed against him.

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