So barely are we 100 hours into the presidency of Donald Trump, and already he is making overtures to change forever the face of long-standing Middle East policy and wisdom. White House Spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement that the administration is in the early stages of discussing how to fulfil Trump’s campaign pledge to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem.
The White House statement coincided with an announcement from the municipality of (occupied) Jerusalem that it had granted permission for the construction of hundreds of new colonist homes in occupied east Jerusalem. That decision that flies in the face of a resolution of the United Nations Security Council to censure Israel for its long-standing policy of colonisation there and in the West Bank, trampling on Palestinians rights, heritage and community.
Clearly though, we are now entering a new era of unbridled cooperation between the Trump presidency and the administration of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two are now bedfellows, intent on ensuring that only the Jewish strand of history will stand, that Islam and Christian heritage are erased, and that the long-suffering Palestinians people will endure decades of Israeli state-sponsored repression and persecution.
In deciding to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv, Trump is ripping up decades of old diplomatic protocols, turning his back on established historical fact, and imposing yet another alternative reality onto a delicate and potentially combustible situation. It is not a move that will sit well with US allies on the Security Council, in the international community, nor in the Arab world. And it certainly will be opposed — and rightly so — by every Palestinian and supporter wherever they may be.
The moving of the embassy and the decision to build more colonies are acts that are deliberately meant to insult, injure and inflame. If that is the aim of Trump and Netanyahu, then they are succeeding in doing so.
For the past eight years of Barack Obama presidency, and of two terms of George W. Bush, through the administrations of Bill Clinton, George H. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerard Ford, Richard Nixon and back to the third year of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, when Israeli troops illegally seized east Jerusalem, the accepted wisdom was that the US embassy belonged in Tel Aviv.
The thinking of those nine presidents has now been ripped up in just four days of Trump. Heaven only knows what the next four years will bring.