What Trump has done: The entire US-Middle East political framework just collapsed

Dec 12,2017 – JORDAN TIMES – Ramzy Baroud

Now that US President Donald Trump has fully adopted the Israeli right-wing political discourse on Palestine, the Palestinian Authority is in a very tough spot.  

“I have determined that it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said in Washington on Wednesday. The embattled president has done what many had asked him not to do. But the truth is, US foreign policy has been bankrupt for years. It was never fair, nor did it ever intend to be so.

Trump merely pulled the plug, not only on the so-called peace process, two-state solution, “land-for-peace formula” but also on all the other tired clichés that have been long dead and decomposing.

But Trump’s announcement has also laid to rest the illusion that the US was ever keen on achieving a just and lasting peace between Israel and its neighbours.

What is left to be said by those who have placed the Palestinian national project of liberation on hold for nearly three decades, waiting for the US to fulfill its self-designated role of an “honest peace broker”?

The Fateh movement of President Mahmoud Abbas declared a “day of rage” in response to Trump’s announcement. Way to deflect attention from the real crisis at hand: the fact that the PA has miserably failed by leasing the fate of Palestine to Washington, and, by extension to Israel as well.

Some are arguing that the two-state solution is not a US property to keep or give away, and that Palestinians can continue to advocate what seems to them to be the sane and possible solution. However, the unpleasant truth is that the “two-state solution” in its current form was itself an American formulation, part of a larger framework that was championed mostly by the US as it pushed Israelis and Palestinians to the “negotiation table” since the Madrid Talks in 1991.

Surely, there will be others who will attempt to continue playing that role, but what difference can Paris and London, for example, make if Tel Aviv and its powerful Washington benefactors have no interest in the subject whatsoever?

Between the hasty American withdrawal from Iraq, “pivot to Asia”, ‘leading from behind doctrine throughout the so-called “Arab Spring”, and failure to press Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on freezing the illegal settlements in Occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank, US policies were growing bankrupt and futile.

This paved the road for a new type of thinking, one that moves away from pandering to Israel, while paying lip service to peace, to wholly embracing the Israeli political discourse and future outlook.

In March 2016, Republican presidential candidate Trump delivered his famous speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Of the many false claims and dangerous promises Trump made, a particular passage stood unique, for it offered early clues to what the future administration’s policy on Israel and Palestine would look like.

“When the United States stands with Israel, the chances of peace really rise and rises exponentially. That’s what will happen when Donald Trump is president of the United States,” he declared. “We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem,” he announced. The mixed cheers and applause were deafening.

Now that Trump is president, he inherited a failed Middle East policy from his predecessor, a policy that Trump finds of no benefit to his administration. What truly matters to the new president is the support of the very constituency that brought him to the White House in the first place. The rightwing, conservative, Christian-evangelical constituency remains the foundation of his troubled presidency. 

So, on December 4, Trump picked up the phone and began calling Arab leaders, informing them of his decision to announce a move that has been delayed for many years: relocating the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Arabs were fumed, for such a move would surely create further destabilisation in a region that has been taken on a destructive course for years. Much of that instability is the outcome of misguided US policies, predicated on unwarranted wars and blind support for Israel.

Recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is the last straw in an ailing discourse. The US Middle East political framework of the past is collapsing to the confusion of US allies in the region, and, of course, the pleasure of Israel. In fact, Trump’s decision constitutes a total US reversal in its approach towards the entire Middle East, considering that Palestine and Israel have been at the centre of most of the region’s conflicts.

The US is currently experiencing unprecedented political instability. Talks of impeaching the president are gaining momentum, while his officials are being paraded before Department of Justice investigators for various accusations, including collusion with foreign powers.  Under these circumstances, there is no decision or issue that Trump can approach without finding himself in a political storm, except one issue, that being Israel.

Being pro-Israel has historically united the US’ two main parties, the Congress, mainstream media and many Americans, lead among them Trump’s political base. 

Indeed, when the Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, Trump’s interest in politics was quite haphazard and entirely personal.

The Congress has gone even further. Attempting to twist the arm of the White House, it added a clause, giving the administration till May 1999, to carry out the Congress’s diktats or face a 50 per cent cut in the State Departments’ budget allocated to  the “Acquisition and Maintenance of Buildings Abroad”.

To avoid violating the Congress’ public law, and to maintain a thread, however thin, of credibility, every US president has signed a six-month waiver; a loophole in the law that allowed the White House to postpone the relocation of the embassy.

Fast forward to Trump’s AIPAC speech. His pledge to move the embassy then seemed merely frivolous and opportunistic.

That was the wrong assessment, however. Collusion between the Trump’s team and Israel began even before he walked into the Oval Office. They worked together to undermine UN efforts   in December 2016 to pass a resolution condemning Israel’s continued illegal settlement in the Occupied Territories, including Jerusalem.

Chosen to lead the “peace” efforts was Trump’s son-in-law and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s good friend, Jared Kushner. Trump’s dedication to Israel was clearly not fleeting.

Trump has finally decided to shed a mask that every US president has worn for decades. And by doing so, the US will, oddly enough, negate the paradoxical role it carved for itself in the last 50 years — that of “peacemaker”.

The writer, www.ramzybaroud.net, is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His forthcoming book is “The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story” (Pluto Press, London). He has a PhD in Palestine studies from the University of Exeter and is a non-resident scholar at Orfalea Centre for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

http://jordantimes.com/opinion/ramzy-baroud/what-trump-has-done-entire-us-middle-east-political-framework-just-collapsed

Categories: Americas, Arab World, Asia, Middle East

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11 replies

  1. Just a few thoughts, for whatever they’re worth.

    1. Clinton, Bush, and Obama all said the same thing. The only reason people are upset now is that President Trump actually acts on his words.

    2. It’s hard to call anything a peace process when one side’s constitution calls for the extermination of the other side.

    3. The two-state deal has been offered repeatedly, and every time the PA has refused in one form or another; most likely because the only peace they desire is the peace that they think will come once they’ve driven Israel into the sea.

    4. Israel would probably be more than happy to have peace with her neighbors, if her neighbors would simply stop trying to help the Palestinians destroy Israel. That does tend to create an atmosphere of mistrust and bad feeling.

    • The issue is complicated. Yes, it is difficult for the Palestinian leadership to agree to any plans that do not include the return of Palestinian refugees, while on the other hand any one saying he is a jew can migrate to Israel (even the blue eyed, blond descendents of the 13th tribe). But let’s face reality: Israel, with the US behind them, and nuclear bombs in their arsenal against a possible state with stones as weapons. What is there to agree about? If Israel wanted a Two-State Solution they could just ‘impose’ it: Tell the Palestinians: This is your state. But of course they have no such intentions. Instead they create new words in the dictionary: ‘peace plan’, ‘road map’, etc.

      • I want to thank you for taking my comment seriously. I honestly expected that this conversation was going to go a different way. I appreciate the fact that it didn’t.

        I suspect “peace plan” and “road map” are more American terms than Israeli, especially road map. That is American English, which I don’t think is taught in Israel. We Americans are quite skilled at inventing new terms. You should hear us insult each other. 😉

        You make a good point. Israel, even without American backing, has a very robust and powerful, world-class military. If I’m not mistaken, they even have The Bomb. They are more than capable of turning the entire Middle East into Israel, or a parking lot.

        Yet, they have shown absolutely amazing restraint in the face of enemies who desire nothing but their destruction. When you consider that all but one of their wars, since 1948, have been defensive, that’s a sight to behold.

        As for that one offensive war, they launched a preemptive strike on opponents who had openly declared that they were going to attack. It’s comparable to a boxer skipping past all the jumping around the ring in a match, and just punching it out. Personally, I see nothing wrong with that. It always makes a fight more interesting.

        You make an interesting point. With all their technology and military strength, Israel could very easily force a two-state solution on the Palestinians. Why do you suppose it is that they haven’t? Why are they insisting that it be a bi-partisan effort, rather than just a unilateral action?

        As for the rest, I am not Jewish, so I can’t speak to what constitutes Jewishness. I will make this point, though.

        Throughout their history, the Hebrew tribes were forced into other parts of the world through a series of diaspora. The tribe of Judah is certainly no exception.

        The amazing thing is, wherever they went, they did two things that ensured their survival as a culture. First, they jealously kept and maintained their heritage, history, and religion. This is significant because most cultures simply vanish within a generation or two after conquest, becoming virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding population.

        The second thing they did was intermarry wherever they went. This had the effect of making them look like the local population over the course of a few generations. This means that European Jews will look like Europeans, African Jews will appear to be African, and so on. That there are blond, blue-eyed Jews coming out of Europe really isn’t a surprise, nor is it suspicious.

      • Please read the following two books (both by Jewish authors): ‘The Thirteenth Tribe’ and ‘The Invention of the Jewish People’ https://www.amazon.com/Invention-Jewish-People-Shlomo-Sand/dp/1844676234 and https://www.amazon.com/Thirteenth-Tribe-Kazar-Empire-Heritage/dp/0445042427

        That is were the blue eyes come from. The Jewish peoplehave always tried to avoid inter-marriage. Once upon a time when I visited Sir Mohammad Zafrullah Khan in New York he visited a Jewish leader. In the Jewish Center of New York a dance for young adults was going on. I was told that ‘we do this to avoid inter-marriage, the young people of our faith should meet each other’ (closely)…

    • Unfortunately Israel, instead of really trying for peace, are actively encouraging ‘destruction and destabilization’ of all neighbours who could otherwise have posed a risk to them. Their DNA has favored them with science and business successes, but somehow there was no more place in their DNA for compassion and peace making.

  2. Believe me there is no peace between Israel and Palestine as long as The extremist Hamas and The extremist Hesbullah still follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad pbuh to expel Jews from their land and as long as Hamas and Hesbullah reject Human Right.

    Both extremist Sunni and Syah do not recognize Ahmadiyyah is Islam.

    The extremist Muslims both sides are against humanity and global society. They feel they are suprimacy over others.

    ❤️

    • Hamas was created by Israel in order to split the Palestinian vote. Very successfully. Google ‘origin of Hamas’ and you will find out. As planned Israel has an eternal excuse to avoid a peace deal and a two state solution.

      • @ Raffiq, it seems to me that you are not a logic, unreasonable. It is impossible Israel created Hamas,
        It is impossible USA created Taliban, ISIS Al Qaida, 9/11 createdby Israel etc. These news are fake news.

        These extremist groups of Muslim want to kill Jews and USA!
        Prabably Hamas emerged because of the policy of Israel. Not because Israel created Hamas.

        ❤️

      • Israel created Hamas. It is a known fact. Google it. but we know that Somi only sees what he likes to see.

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