What are the benefits for the US in declaring Jerusalem as Israel's capital?

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According to CNN, Trump has just recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital:

President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday and announced plans to relocate the US Embassy there, a move expected to inflame tensions in the region and unsettle the prospects for peace.

Wikipedia informs us that Jerusalem's status is quite unclear:

There is significant disagreement in the international community on the legal and diplomatic status of Jerusalem. Legal scholars disagree on how to resolve the dispute under international law. Many United Nations (UN) member states formally adhere to the United Nations proposal that Jerusalem should have an international status.

Also, this seems to be opposing the legal position of the vast majority of states:

The majority of UN member states and most international organisations do not recognise Israel's ownership of East Jerusalem which occurred after the 1967 Six-Day War, nor its 1980 Jerusalem Law proclamation, which declared a "complete and united" Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Another CNN article explains about possible issues related to this decision:

The final status of Jerusalem has always been one of the most difficult and sensitive questions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If the United States declares Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it would be seen as prejudging that question, deciding an issue that was supposed to be left to negotiations and breaking with the international consensus on the holy city.

Question: What are the benefits for the US in declaring Jerusalem as Israel's capital??

Alexei

Posted 2017-12-06T19:16:49.643

Reputation: 43 325

Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

– Sam I am says Reinstate Monica – 2017-12-08T17:16:35.993

Maybe some more input for german readers: https://www.steinhoefel.com/2017/12/jerusalem-endlich.html

– Top Questions – 2017-12-11T14:45:36.160

9Fun fact, Clinton, W. Bush, and Obama each promised to do this. – Captain Hypertext – 2017-12-12T13:35:26.810

Answers

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It's important to remember that there was a lot of symbolism here. Israel has always considered Jerusalem its capital (something codified in 1980). The international community, however, is divided on that subject, partially because the Palestinian Authority views East Jerusalem as their capital as well:

The Palestinian National Authority views East Jerusalem as occupied territory according to United Nations Security Council Resolution 242. The Palestinian Authority claims all of East Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, as the capital of the State of Palestine, and claims that West Jerusalem is also subject to permanent status negotiations. However, it has stated that it would be willing to consider alternative solutions, such as making Jerusalem an open city. The official position of the PNA is that Jerusalem should be an open city, with no physical partition and that Palestine would guarantee freedom of worship, access and the protection of sites of religious significance.

The quintessential symbol of that division is the Dome of the Rock. It's a holy Muslim site (where Muslims believe Mohammad, their holy prophet, ascended to Heaven). But it's built atop what is known as the Temple Mount, where the Jewish temple once stood (this is above where the Wailing Wall, a holy Jewish site, is located). Solving that problem alone is fairly thorny, let alone what to do about the whole city.

The reason for the Jerusalem move is the Jerusalem Embassy Act:

The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 is a public law of the United States passed by the 104th Congress on October 23, 1995. It was passed for the purposes of initiating and funding the relocation of the Embassy of the United States in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no later than May 31, 1999, and attempted to withhold 50 percent of the funds appropriated to the State Department specifically for "Acquisition and Maintenance of Buildings Abroad" as allocated in fiscal year 1999 until the United States Embassy in Jerusalem had officially opened. The act also called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city and for it to be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel. Israel's declared capital is Jerusalem, but this is not internationally recognized, pending final status talks in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

This has been a popular campaign point, with Clinton, Bush (43), and Obama all making speeches in support of it, and then using executive waivers to avoid doing so. Why? Most likely because

  1. it would needlessly anger the Palestinians (who have known terrorist organizations in their midst),
  2. it was likely seen as a bargaining chip in peace negotiations,
  3. it became status quo by the time Bill Clinton left office (political inertia).

So why is Trump doing it now?

  1. Trump, for better or worse, isn't as concerned with his image as his predecessors. He's unlikely to suffer any immediate political harm from doing it. Almost all of the people viewing this dimly didn't have a good view of him before he did this.
  2. It offers another distraction from domestic woes. Trump is a master at getting the press to change the subject.
  3. It's unlikely to change anything in peace negotiations. The PLO does not recognize Israel's right to exist. Hamas' charter declares they will destroy Israel. Israel was never going to give up Jerusalem.
  4. Trump likes to play hardball in negotiations. He takes an untenable position at first, and then comes back with something more reasonable. He's set a table to try and muscle the Palestinian Authority. From earlier this year:

    "His style of diplomacy is very different from his recent predecessors," former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told CNN International's Hala Gorani Thursday. "He is much more in your face. I suppose the diplomacy of the rest of us is kind of going to have to get used to that."

Machavity

Posted 2017-12-06T19:16:49.643

Reputation: 33 727

You could add one more point concerning Trump's take on it: Congress voted to move the embassy, Clinton signed it, and Trump doesn't recognize the authority of the executive branch to waive that law. He's done away with a whole series of executive orders and regulations which he has stated are unconstitutional due to their disregard of Congressional votes; another example would be DACA (Congress did vote on it, and voted against it). – Ben Voigt – 2018-12-05T03:50:32.583

@BenVoigt Normally I'd agree, but in this case the 6-month waivers were part of the law itself, so there was no abuse of power by any President here. DACA is different because no law was passed.

– Machavity – 2018-12-05T04:12:28.697

@Machavity: Good point... but the law doesn't permit a waiver for political reasons, only for national security. So there's good reason to believe that at least one of the chain of waivers was improper (which would nullify all the succeeding ones too). – Ben Voigt – 2018-12-05T04:17:31.230

@BenVoigt Then why would Trump issue one? It was after that waiver expired that the move was made. – Machavity – 2018-12-05T04:18:44.887

@Machavity: According to CNN, "Trump was forced to sign the waiver because the US ambassador does not yet have an official residence in Jerusalem". So apparently he was overriding the (1999) deadline until the move was complete. It would be interesting to know if there was a difference in wording as compared to previous waivers.

– Ben Voigt – 2018-12-05T04:25:37.380

@Machavity: After a bit more investigation, I am fully convinced that the waivers have not been meeting the requirements of the law, specifically Section 7 (a) 3 -- "A report under paragraph (1) or (2) shall include a statement of the interests affected by the limitation that the President seeks to suspend; and a discussion of the manner in which the limitation affects the interests." There's no such thing in any of the waivers. – Ben Voigt – 2018-12-05T04:31:41.283

3Trump (…) isn't as concerned with his image as his predecessors. I would rather say he is concerned with his image with different people than his predecessors. – chirlu – 2017-12-08T15:58:26.910

14@MoziburUllah No. While there was an exchange of "recognition letters" in 1993, this good faith effort was undermined by proceeding statements from Yasser Arafat, to include: "We will not bend or fail until the blood of every last Jew from the youngest child to the oldest elder is spilt to redeem our land! ~ 1996/01/30 " – Drunk Cynic – 2017-12-08T15:58:38.420

4@DrunkCynic: nevertheless the recognition letters were exchanged and the Oslo agreement was signed and this whilst such statements had been made on both sides; there's equally blood-curdling statements made by ministers in Israeli cabinent... – Mozibur Ullah – 2017-12-08T17:13:07.073

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@MoziburUllah There's a key difference here. The PA recognizes that Israel exists. It does not recognize Israel's right to exist.

– Machavity – 2017-12-08T17:17:09.160

3@Machavity: I'm splitting hairs?!!! Your link has "They have stated that the Charter was re-written in 1996 to remove the claim. Although it is a bit debatable if they actually have re-writtten that charter, the fact that the PLO states they have done so, and they have recognised Israel's right to exist is the important thing." – Mozibur Ullah – 2017-12-08T17:23:37.410

1@MoziburUllah "there's equally blood-curdling statements made by ministers in Israeli cabinent"... citation needed – JoelFan – 2017-12-08T18:32:06.073

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@joelFan: Here is a posting by Ayelat Shaked, justice minister in Netanyahu's cabinet in 2014: " in wars the enemy is usually an entire people, including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure...

– Mozibur Ullah – 2017-12-08T18:59:56.410

6@joelFan:...actors in the war are those who incite in mosques, who write the murderous curricula for schools, who give shelter, who provide vehicles, and all those who honor and give them their moral support. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there". – Mozibur Ullah – 2017-12-08T19:00:34.410

2@MoziburUllah that is indeed inexcusable. The point does still need to be made that such views from the Israeli side are quite rare and I'm sure she was swiftly and crushingly condemned by her fellow politicians. Thanks for the citation though. – JoelFan – 2017-12-08T19:18:04.677

8@JoelFan: As Israel is the stronger party in the on-going dispute it makes sense that they are less likely to make such comments, they have a lot less to fear. – Mozibur Ullah – 2017-12-08T19:25:34.877

1Arabs/Muslims know best why they never bothered to make Jerusalem their capital, never in the 600 years of Muslim occupation, not even during the 19 years of Jordanian occupation 1948-1967. In striking contrast to this indifference, the 1949 ceasefire borders in the Jerusalem area best show the cardinal importance of Jerusalem to the Jewish nation: the Jews were unrelentingly willing to sacrifice their best men to carve a bloody way to Jerusalem. Just look at the shape of the 1949 borders. They were not dictated by any topographical justification. Only by 2,000 years of longing to Jerusalem. – rapt – 2017-12-09T16:28:56.863

5The main reasons for former administrations to not let that happen were that they knew that a) they'll probably trigger another intifada, b) lose a lot of credit in all Arab countries and bring them closer together, possibly losing important weapons trade partners, and c) will never again be able to play a moderating role in the middle east, losing a lot of political influence. This is all blatantly clear for anyone knowing the political situation there. Trump chose to simply ignore all this. Putin probably smiled reading the news. – Philip Klöcking – 2017-12-09T23:59:53.777

2@DrunkCynic both sides have made despicable statements and performed despicable acts. Reminding us that someone on one side said something awful doesn't really accomplish anything, other than to continue to inflame, which seems to be the only thing most people want to accomplish. Death to all who oppose us, kill them all, wipe them out, and other meaningless garbage is the go-to rhetoric for fanatics, and given enough time, it will lead to bloodshed. Reasoned discourse cannot happen until people stop bringing up UNreasoned discourse of the past. . – barbecue – 2017-12-10T07:09:01.513

1@barbecue Except the claim that the PLO recognizes Israel's right to exist is patently false when compared to the current public message of the PLO, which calls for the eradication of Israel. Further, Yasser Arafat wasn't just a member of one side, but its leader. – Drunk Cynic – 2017-12-10T10:17:29.057

@DrunkCynic that in no way invalidates my point. It's easy to find extremist points of view on both sides, but it accomplishes nothing to keep bringing them up. Remember the recent Zionist who called for extermination of the Palestinians? – barbecue – 2017-12-13T00:16:12.467

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Rallying his base and making good on a campaign promise. Evangelical Christians in the US voice strong political support for Israel and this group overwhelmingly voted for Trump and was pivotal for his victory. This was a hard won constituency as Ted Cruz fashioned himself as champion of the Evangelicals during primaries and support was split between Cruz, Rubio, and Trump, and Trump has many moral foibles that could serve to put off Evangelicals. Trump needed to do something to keep them in his court and this is a low-hanging fruit as the only fallout is anger from foreign leaders, something Trump has shown he doesn't care much about (Paris Accord, German Trade, too many examples to list).

This isn't just an Evangelical issue, the majority of republicans sympathize with Israel on the Israel/Palestine conflict, but this is a much more pertinent issue to Evangelicals because of the religious ramifications than it is to the broader republican base.

The US gains nothing from this.

It is true that Trump gains some goodwill from Israel as a result from this. What I mean is this action in and of itself doesn't translate into any tangible benefit for the U.S. as a country.

Gramatik

Posted 2017-12-06T19:16:49.643

Reputation: 8 736

64The US gains nothing from this. This is only true in the most shallow senses of the word. Yes the US doesn't gain anything directly. But if we assume (and obviously this is highly controversial/not clear cut) that Israel is on the 'correct' side of the middle east debate (as the Trump admin believes), then declaring Jerusalem as their capital is a crucial step towards strengthening the 'correct' solution. (Again, obviously the basic premise of that is hotly debated, but if you take it from the point of view of the Trump administration then the gains are very obvious). – David says Reinstate Monica – 2017-12-07T03:59:30.270

20@DavidGrinberg Also, aside from which stance one considers 'correct,' this move is to support a long-time U.S. ally. If nothing else, the U.S. regains goodwill with Israel, some of which was lost during the Obama administration, especially with a U.N. vote on an anti-Israel resolution at the end of Obama's 2nd term. Frankly, this answer is just wrong, no matter how one feels about the situation between Israel and the West Bank. – reirab – 2017-12-07T04:32:53.660

Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

– Sam I am says Reinstate Monica – 2017-12-10T01:24:41.127

5@DavidGrinberg Whether this will benefit the solution the current Israeli government and Trump's admin would like to see or be counter-productive isn't clear at all. It is an obvious step to directly endorse such a solution, but if it destabilizes the region it might have negative consequences after all. Not trying to say you're wrong, I'd just be cautious with regard to estimating the actual effects. You're right, of course, that the Trump admin and Co. think this will further their cause. – Frank Hopkins – 2017-12-10T04:45:18.620

8The idea that evangelicals would be put off by "moral foibles" is debatable considering how many supposedly moral issues evangelicals are perfectly willing to ignore. – barbecue – 2017-12-10T07:03:35.427

1@Darkwing All benefits lie in the future and therefore not clear at all, but justifiying the sentence "The US gains nothing from this" by that is a stretch, to say the least. – sgf – 2017-12-10T16:24:31.250

8Well, the evangelicals believe that only when the world is consumed in a massive war that ends all civilization will the ghost return to split the heathens from the pure flock and take them to heaven. Thus, by declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel, Trump stirs the embers in the middle east, war is more likely, and the evangelicals are happy. – Stian Yttervik – 2017-12-10T17:20:02.747

2@reirab yet at the same time lose support in europe. - Statements like these are hard to swallow pills here; As the prevalent opninion in europe is that israel is a country that should be shared; and thus taking ANY hard line is considered "terrible". (Siding with a side isn't bad, just taking a hard stance is). This whole debacle is destabilizing, putting fuel on a fire. The only "effect" is that the region is harder to stabilize. So my guess is that the US likes to have the middle east in a perpetual war. – paul23 – 2017-12-11T13:44:50.877

@DavidGrinberg - "the middle east debate" - that's seems like a massive over-simplification. I can probably name half a dozen issues that Israel is involved in. Or are you using that as a term for the Palestinian issues in the Occupied Territories? – PoloHoleSet – 2017-12-12T20:43:32.233

83

The reason why people want the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is to counter the stream of international organizations that have been recognizing Palestine as a country. As such, it is a show of support for Israel and against those who believe that Israel is illegitimate.

Some believe that the problem is that the Palestinians don't feel a need to go to the negotiating table to achieve their goals. Instead, they are pursuing recognition from international bodies in lieu of negotiating with Israel. To the extent that they receive that support, they don't need to negotiate with Israel. They can get support elsewhere.

Some believe that the way to push the Palestinians back to the negotiating table is to take a symbolic action that they will view negatively but which will have little if any practical effect. Recognizing the city that Israel uses as their capital as the official capital is that kind of symbolic action. It won't change Israel--they already view Jerusalem as their capital. It won't really change things for Palestine. While they contest Israel's ownership of Jerusalem, they aren't in possession of it now.

Again, the hope is that this will bring them back to the negotiating table. If not, the same people that favor this action have other provocations that they propose. Note that they understand and expected the Palestinian reaction of condemnation. Their perspective is that the Palestinians are ignoring the peace process. Until the Palestinians stop ignoring Israeli negotiators, the peace process isn't going anywhere. People of this belief feel that a negative reaction is better than no reaction.

The basic idea is that if the Palestinians feel that they have something to lose by waiting, they will be more interested in negotiating now.

This is a controversial position. Here's two examples of opinions on this:

I don't want to take a position on this. There is room here for reasonable people to disagree. I would point out though that those who view decades of precedent as sacrosanct need to explain:

  1. Why it wasn't sacrosanct when Barack Obama failed to veto a United Nations condemnation of Israel, also reversing decades of bipartisan policy.
  2. What's so great about the decades of bipartisan policy that have failed to produce any kind of improvement in the Middle East in terms of relations between Israel and other countries.

If it was all right for Obama to upend policy at the end of his term, when he wouldn't have to deal with the repercussions, then it should be all right for Trump to upend policy at the beginning of his term. This may be the wrong thing to do. That's certainly possible. It also may be the right thing to do. We won't know until we see the long term results.

Brythan

Posted 2017-12-06T19:16:49.643

Reputation: 86 095

48You're placing the blame for a breakdown in negotiations squarely on the Palestinian side. During the previous peace talks Abbas clearly stated he would return to the table when Israel stopped building settlements on occupied territory, which it has not. – Gramatik – 2017-12-07T14:59:03.340

Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

– Sam I am says Reinstate Monica – 2017-12-08T17:14:31.493

10This article seems to fairly lay out the motivations of the people who made the decision without arguing their correctness. – Paul Becotte – 2017-12-09T01:36:23.683

2Where are the people in the US that believe that the Israelians are an invading force and the country should instead be decolonized (like many countries were after the second world war) and given back to the palestine? – paul23 – 2017-12-11T13:50:52.743

8Your first paragraph implicitly assumes that everyone who recognizes, or wishes to recognize, Palestine as a country also does not believe Israel is legitimate. This is false, as the “two-state solution” exists as a position people favor that both recognizes Palestine and sees Israel as legitimate. – KRyan – 2017-12-11T16:49:45.430

1@paul23 When I lived in DC (about two years ago), I saw bus ads and protester signs saying exactly that all the time. In fact, just about the only protesters more reliably found in front of the White House were the anti-nuclear-weapons folks; my wife’s commute took her past the White House four days a week for a while. It’s hard to imagine that they’ve gone away with the election of a more pro-Israel president. – KRyan – 2017-12-11T16:55:14.523

@KRyan protests are the initializers of politics: they are not of any influence until a party picks up on that group. - I've not ever seen any party in the us pick up on that. – paul23 – 2017-12-11T18:37:34.583

2@paul23 You are correct that both major parties in the US are pro-Israel, but your comment that I was responding to asked “where are the people in the US,” which is what I was answering. There are people who espouse that position, even if politicians by-and-large don’t. – KRyan – 2017-12-11T19:01:48.720

1@Gramatik what you are basically saying is that one side says it is perfectly willing to negotiate after its demands are met. – BlackThorn – 2017-12-12T17:21:16.777

@TBear Demands to stop establishing facts that are difficult to reverse in the negotiations while the other party well knows this is a provocation. Doesn't sound unreasonable to me. – BlackJack – 2017-12-27T18:00:18.500

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At least prior to the previous U.S. administration, Israel has been a long-time ally of the United States and each country had usually supported the other. Having technologically and economically advanced democratic allies is generally seen as a good thing for the U.S., especially in the Middle East.

Jerusalem has been the official capital of the State of Israel since the end of the Arab-Israeli War in 1949, almost 70 years ago. Israel's President, Prime Minister, Parliament, Supreme Court, etc. are all located in Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv. There are several motivations behind foreign powers refusing to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, but the fact of the matter is that it de facto is the capital of Israel, whether other countries want it to be so or not and this has been the case for almost an entire lifetime.

Ending an official policy of refusing to recognize an ally's official capital is seen as a token of goodwill. So, the answer to why this is seen as being good for the United States comes down to that it improves relations with a key economic, political, and military ally in the region.

This situation is very similar to the situation with U.S. policy regarding Taiwan. Like with Israel, the U.S. and Taiwan have generally had good and mutually-beneficial relations for decades, but the U.S. (like almost every other country on Earth) has historically refused to officially recognize Taiwan's independence in order to keep from making China (PRC) mad. Also like with Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, Taiwan's independence has been the de facto situation on the ground of decades, but was not internationally recognized for purely political reasons.

Similarly to what is happening with Israel and Jerusalem now, suggestions were were happening for a while earlier this year that the U.S. might stop recognizing the One China Principle and give formal recognition to the independence of Taiwan. However, at least for now, the U.S. continues to abide by One China, partially due to Taiwan's shared desire not to incur too much anger from the PRC.

reirab

Posted 2017-12-06T19:16:49.643

Reputation: 5 911

2The last paragraph somewhat contradicts the earlier point. If we should recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital because they say it is, should we not recognize Taiwan's independence because they say they are? – None – 2017-12-07T02:07:14.817

6@blip It's not recognizing Jerusalem because as Israel's capital because they say it is; it's recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital because a US ally [in this case, Israel] says it is. So too regarding Taiwan the US has adopted the position of the US's ally, China. The goal here (according to this answer) is to take the position of the country you care more about not angering and being friendly to. – Double AA – 2017-12-07T03:52:01.367

2@DoubleAA we've been allies with Taiwan and Mainland China. Arguably, the US has had a longer friendly relation with Taiwan than the rest of China. – None – 2017-12-07T04:05:50.133

3@blip history aside, right now the us cares more about maintaining it's relationship with China, probably mostly for economic reasons – Double AA – 2017-12-07T04:10:50.760

5@blip Maybe I worded it poorly, but the comparison in the last paragraph was between starting to recognize Jerusalem and starting to recognize Taiwan's independence, which was also openly discussed for a while earlier this year. However, they ended up deciding not to go forward with the latter for now... partially because Taiwan themselves didn't want to stir up trouble with the PRC. – reirab – 2017-12-07T04:27:47.233

@reirab ah. Gotcha! That makes sense. – None – 2017-12-07T04:37:26.353

1@blip yes, the US should also recognize Taiwan as being independent in order to be realistic. – JonathanReez – 2017-12-07T18:00:16.840

@DoubleAA It isn't quite true that America has adopted the position of China. Rather America has said it doesn't challenge China's position. It's like when your religious friend tells you all the wonderful things about their gods. You don't believe it but you don't argue about it either because you want to remain friends. Not arguing about it is America's official position. – Readin – 2017-12-10T04:13:42.263

1@blip "Arguably, the US has had a longer friendly relation with Taiwan than the rest of China." You're right and it's confusing because the ROC government of Taiwan was the government of China before it left China and moved to Taiwan between 1945 and 1949, and still claimed both formally and in spirit (as opposed to now when they no longer mean it) to be China. So from 1949 to 1995 was America friends with China (the ROC) or with Taiwan? Of course since 1995 when Taiwan became a democracy we can consider the ROC to represent Taiwan. That wasn't necessarily so before. – Readin – 2017-12-10T04:17:37.803

4

Probably the same as the benefit of supporting moving of Germany's capital to Berlin or the benefit of changing the English name of the China's capital to Beijing from Peking. In all of those cases, US recognizes that sovereign nations have the right to name their own capitals.

There was, for a while, a belief that the stateless territory on the West Bank of Jordan river (currently under Israel's partial control aka "occupation") may agree to terms which would make it a state and that Israel would be willing to give up part of its territory in exchange for concessions from that new state. But since no progress has emerged in this process (sometimes known as a "peace process"), the most practical solution is to now treat the status quo as de facto permanent.

grovkin

Posted 2017-12-06T19:16:49.643

Reputation: 5 838

9How, exactly, is this the "most practical solution"? This doesn't answer the question as to what the US gains from this. – None – 2017-12-09T03:30:02.037

2@blip, recognizing things for what they are, rather than for what you wish they were or what others wish they were, is generally the most practical solution. The benefit to the US is simply in viewing the world for what it is rather than for what it appears to others who are looking through a lens of some hysteria de jour. Instead of picking which version of wishful thinking we ascribe to, we now get to act according to how things are. That's practical by the definition of "practical". – grovkin – 2017-12-10T13:45:01.403

3how things "are" in geopolitical terms is open to vastly different points of view. And deciding that no progress has been made, therefore we'll just pick one side to support is obviously arbitrary, at best. – None – 2017-12-10T17:35:47.543

3@blip, it's not a support of one side over the other though. It's recognition of how things are in the most honest way possible. The administration didn't abandon long-term goals of creating a mutually-acceptable solution. It simply recognized the status quo as de facto permanent. Which does not mean that things can't be recognized to be different if they change. Opinions may differ. Facts are facts. Treating the situation based on facts, rather than on opinions on how facts should change, is also more practical. – grovkin – 2017-12-10T21:43:44.677

4It's your opinion that this is a 'fact' and is the 'most honest way of looking at it'. It's not an incorrect opinion, but it's just an opinion, and by no means universal or even a majority opinion. And that's the issue. There is no absolute truth in this situation. Never has been. There may never be. – None – 2017-12-10T22:48:27.043

2@blip, it's my opinion only in as much as I am the one holding it. But that's not enough to dismiss it. If you want to say that it is only my opinion, then you'd have a case that it is not a fact. But it's not. It's an observation of what is currently the case. From all the language used by the President, the US embassador to the UN, and the State Department, it's a reflection of the facts. Israel is governed (as a country) from Jerusalem. Israel is a country. That makes Jerusalem Israel's capital. These are observable phenomena. Pretending otherwise is counter productive. – grovkin – 2017-12-10T22:56:02.013

3

I'm not dismissing your opinion. I'm saying it's just an opinion. One shared by some in the US Federal Government. Not one necessarily shared by most of the rest of the planet. In fact, we're the only nation that even thinks we should have an embassy there: http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/05/middleeast/trump-jerusalem-explainer-intl/index.html Again...not dismissing your opinion. But it is very much a minority opinion. Not universal fact.

– None – 2017-12-10T23:58:13.300

2How is it an "opinion" that all the government institutions (parliament, president, supreme court, ministry headquarters) are in Jerusalem, none in any other city, and this has been the case since Israel has been founded? Many Israelis (unless they are very politically astute) have no idea that their capital is in doubt by other countries. The concept that it is not the capital is a political fiction, done just to save others' feelings... similar to pretending that Taiwan is part of China. Just the fact that every country supports the political fiction does not make it an "opinion" – JoelFan – 2017-12-12T18:32:56.427

1

The benefit of Trump's strategy is that it creates an opportunity to move the region closer to peace between the Palestinians and Israel.

More stability means lower US expenditure in the region.

By "giving" the Israelis Jerusalem, Trump has bought leverage.

Jerusalem is already occupied by Israel, so Trump has offered little more than words and a promise of an embassy move. Despite this, the Israelis are positively overjoyed at the news. Classic Trump.

There will be one of two outcomes:

1. Violence from the Palestinians

This will buy Trump leverage with the Palestinians ("come on guys, look at the violent actions you have been conducting...").

2. Restraint from the Palestinians

This will buy even more leverage with the Israelis ("look at how restrained/reasonable the Palestinians have been").

So Trump now needs to simply wait a short time, and then bring the two parties to the table.

Trump now has leverage with the most powerful party (the Israelis) to move them towards a solution - likely a two-state solution.

52d6c6af

Posted 2017-12-06T19:16:49.643

Reputation: 10 332

8The only problem with that is that agreeing to a two-state solution without (part of) Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital is currently impossible to accept for the Palestinian leaders. It would be political (or even actual) suicide and there wouldn't be sufficient support to maintain such a solution. – Roland – 2017-12-07T11:51:44.150

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– Sam I am says Reinstate Monica – 2017-12-08T17:20:00.267

8I cannot understand how anyone could actually believe the US would be accepted as a partner in talks by the Palestinian part. They lost all credibility of even being interested in a peaceful solution. – Philip Klöcking – 2017-12-10T00:07:32.053

Such categorical statements rarely enlighten. The existing peace process is over 40 years old & has still not succeeded. Jerusalem was a point of stalemate, with the Palestinians wanting East Jerusalem. The Israelis already held Jerusalem. Trump has ended that stalemate by wiping those pieces off the table. That is realpolitik & clears a path for negotiation. You worry about US credibility with the Palestinians. Why? What credibility was there to be lost? I now see Saudi hosting peace talks, with Israel offering a better deal. It may not work, but I don’t think it can be dismissed so glibly. – 52d6c6af – 2017-12-10T01:04:06.203

@Roland Sounds as if both parties should have a shared capital and be done with it. – Gnudiff – 2017-12-10T12:22:43.727

1@Ben You dismiss the fact that Israel never intended to make any offer. They think building settlements in the West Bank is legitimate. They always claimed Jerusalem as their "undivided eternal capital". Netanyahu has no incentive whatsoever for offering anything. He will rather use upcoming violence as an excuse for further steps against Palestinians. – Philip Klöcking – 2017-12-11T14:49:49.207

1Israel's settlers have the upper hand. They are winning the long war. Why negotiate when you're winning? The answer seems naïve in the assumption that Trump can easily manipulate such a complex problem in his favour. – inappropriateCode – 2017-12-12T14:36:08.110

The fact that Israel need not negotiate is the very reason Trump's approach is worthwhile. As you point out, Israel does not need to negotiate. Given this, how should we proceed? International condemnation? Tried that. Doesn't work. A peace process with Jerusalem on the table? Tried that. Doesn't work. So Trump is changing the parameters of the negotiation. He is ingratiating himself with Israel. This IMV is the best chance for getting the best possible settlement for the Palestinians. – 52d6c6af – 2017-12-12T14:45:46.563

2The real way would be to pressure Israel either treat Palestine as a state or palestenians as citizens(with voting etc rights). – Lassi Kinnunen – 2017-12-13T04:31:19.880

1@Ben That's probably a better answer than the one you've given? – inappropriateCode – 2017-12-13T07:43:33.187

1

There's nothing to gain for the US. It will likely cause more strife in the middle east (Trump seems to want more strife in general - Part of Bannon's plan to cause chaos) It will cause the right wing in Israel to like Trump more just as it causes the right wing in the US to like Trump more. Another Zero gain, as Israel is our lapdog in the middle east and not the other way around - they wouldn't exist in current configuration, if not for our votes in the UN.

There are no benefits for the US. It could be argued, if you're the type who likes us involved in everything middle east, that an Israeli state is a good thing - since it allows us to project power in the middle east, but we already have that without this move.

This does nothing but pump up Trump's supporters. That's all it's designed to do. He has to create reasons to support him, since Republican policies in general could attract no votes - other than from Billionaires and corporations. So they have to come up with garbage like this, guns, babies - whatever. Whatever separates their supporters from their jobs/money.

doston

Posted 2017-12-06T19:16:49.643

Reputation: 145

One objection: I don't think Israel's existence depends on "votes in the UN"... they have nuclear weapons! – None – 2017-12-08T04:44:18.153

14This seems like a rant, not an objective answer. – Thern – 2017-12-08T09:07:33.287

@Nebr While It sounds like a rant it's the more assertive answer to far. – jean – 2017-12-08T17:11:58.883

@Joe Weapons it produced without USA help? Without USA financial aid? Without all that USA military gear, jets, etc? How many uranium mines there are in Israel? How many nuclear power plants (to estabilisih engineering competence and know-how)? Maybe it can a good question for skeptics – jean – 2017-12-08T17:18:32.260

5@jean Being a rant doesn't automatically mean that any part of the answer is wrong, but it is not the type of answer that seems suitable for a Q&A site like this. And much, like "Trump seems to want more strife in general - Part of Bannon's plan to cause chaos" is pure speculation. It may be correct - or utterly wrong. – Thern – 2017-12-08T19:22:29.907

@Nebr Agreed the tone will don't help this post to get upvotes and as assertive as IMHO it is this tone is utterly unecessary and even counterprodutvie. Abou the chaos, most previous administrations aknowledge the weight of the USA president speech and wisely cares about it uses. The actual one don't gives a sh*t beyond how it looks for it voters and I understand that's why it looks like throwing gasoline on the fire – jean – 2017-12-08T19:29:39.787

@jean This may be, and I would not see it beneath Trump to be upset about some telephone call with a Palestine leader and recognizing Jerusalem out of pure spite, but this is all speculation. Other answers have in fact addressed possible benefits for the US, and this is what the question actually is about. Neither of us knows what is going on in Trumps mind, of course. – Thern – 2017-12-08T19:36:09.137

@jean - trump and bannon are connected. bannon has written about the need for global strife and war. i think it's not unreasonable - given everything trump has done seems to be headed in that direction. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/steve-bannon-apocalypse-third-world-war-coming-white-house-donald-trump-historian-claim-film-david-a7570631.html

– doston – 2017-12-08T21:57:21.163

1@jean The history of Israel's nukes is irrelevant to my point, which is admittedly a nitpick. It's just that once you have nuclear weapons, your existence is pretty well assured. So now that they've got them, the fact that almost the entire UN dumps on them isn't going to persuade the Israelis to pack up and quit. – None – 2017-12-09T23:09:54.147

@Joe That was just an argument about the Israel x USA relationship one IMHO USA don't need to do more than it already did in the past 60 years. at the bottom line it's all about "americas first" and how it will accelerate USA lost of leadership in the international stage – jean – 2017-12-10T15:15:44.883

1

On the whole, Democrats are much more likely to see Palestinian grievances as at least partly justified, while Republicans are more likely to believe that Israel has been the victim of a Palestinian campaign of intimidation, and therefore to support Israel.

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Poll-74-percent-Republicans-33-percent-Democrats-sympathize-with-Israel-over-Palestinians-478350

Republicans, who are currently in charge, are simply acting on what they believe. As they see it, Israel has been the victim of a Palestinian campaign of intimidation over the years. Again, as they see it, the right response to such a campaign is to stand up to it. Moving the embassy is a manifestation of that.

Also playing into the decision is a belief on the Republican side that a strong attitude will get more respect, especially from the Arab world, than a weak one. That belief is most strongly articulated here:

https://www.amazon.com/Strong-Horse-Power-Politics-Civilizations/dp/0767921801

It's worth noting that whether or not these beliefs are correct, while certainly relevant for history, is not relevant to the decision itself. In other words, if a person believes something to be true, they will act on it, regardless of whether their belief is correct or not.

William Jockusch

Posted 2017-12-06T19:16:49.643

Reputation: 3 378