Why did he do it? Why did he give away the most disputed city on the planet to Israel for free; a city that is not America’s to gift. And especially when the world graphically spelled out the potentially devastating consequences?
When the Independent’s Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk was asked to see into the US President’s mind, he replied, “I don’t have the keys to the insane asylum”. But was there method in Donald Trump’s madness? There are plenty of guesstimates flying around. He trod where no president has dared because he needed to fulfil his pledge to American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), reward his big shot billionaire Zionist backers and to keep on board his Evangelical following. His announcement sent them into a frenzy of excitement believing that the Armageddon prophecy — conditional upon the Jews rebuilding their temple and Jews converting to Christianity — will soon come to pass.
That one has some merit. Trump has to nurture his dwindling base if he seeks a second term because the rest of the country (and most of the world) cannot wait to show him the door judging by his woeful approval ratings. Another theory doing the rounds is that he deliberately triggered a firestorm throughout the Muslim world to heighten emotions and increase frustrations inevitably resulting in violent protest so as to provide grist to the mill of his anti-Muslim agenda laid out succinctly during the campaign but which he has since been forced to water down. A third has a Machiavellian ring to it. In his wisdom, the president deliberately torched the dreams of generations of Palestinians for whom Jerusalem is and will always be the capital of Palestine with the aim of bringing them to their knees begging to accept any scraps Benjamin Netanyahu deigns to throw their way.
That’s not out of the question and just in case the theory has merit, it is more than likely the scheme was concocted by Israel which used Trump as its useful idiot. However, as we have witnessed it won’t wash. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected America’s mediation and to show he means business he has refused to meet with Vice-President Mike Pence during his upcoming regional kiss-and-make-up tour.
It’s not entirely out of the question that President Trump harbours personal empathy for the suffering of the Jewish race and wants to reward them with what they call ‘the eternal capital of the Jewish people’.
On second thoughts, Frank Bruni wrote a column in the New York Times titled, “Why does Donald Trump keep dissing Jews?” He highlights the president’s penchant for re-tweeting material “from proudly anti-Semitic feeds and prompted a furore by promoting an image that placed Hilary Clinton’s face atop a pile of cash and besides a six-pointed star (the Star of David) on which ‘most corrupt candidate ever’ was written.”
Donald Trump is (or perhaps was) a Presbyterian, who according to a leading evangelical James C. Dobson quoted in the New York Times “recently came to accept a relationship with Christ” yet he merrily ignored heartfelt pleas from Pope Francis and a slew of church leaders not to announce that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital or to relocate the US embassy there.
No other embassy in city
Now let’s analyse the president’s own explanation for his incendiary act. He reasons because the Israeli Knesset, ministries and Supreme Court are located in Jerusalem it stands to reason that it should be the Jewish capital and the ideal venue for an embassy. Never mind that there is no other embassy anywhere in the city for good reason.
He claims the move was made to provide a real opportunity for peace, by removing Israel’s claim to Jerusalem off the table, which the Palestinians should grasp. Palestinians are protesting throughout the West Bank and Gaza. Hamas has called for a third uprising. The international community is outraged. On Friday, the UN Security Council met in a special session and every member state apart from the US, including the UK, France, Sweden and Egypt, denounced the move as illegal pushing the peace process back decades and worse an incitement to terrorism or a religious war. The US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley parroted her boss’s ridiculous line, nauseatingly addressed Palestinians as her brothers and sisters before proceeding to attack the United Nations for being one “of the world’s foremost centres of hostility towards Israel” adding “the UN has done more damage to the prospects of Middle East peace than to advance them…”
In reality, Trump has blessed the illegal occupier over its oppressed victims and in so doing he has flouted international law, the Fourth Geneva Convention not to mention 50 years of United Nations Security Council Resolutions confirming that east Jerusalem is occupied territory; among them one passed last year condemning Israel for colony construction in Occupied Territories including occupied east Jerusalem. America’s role as an honest broker is defunct.
Trump’s America First policy is working. America’s western allies are following suit placing their own interests as a priority and distancing themselves from Washington. He wants walls; well he has just succeeded in walling off the United States diplomatically, reducing its influence – and he has frittered away his nation’s historic role as a force for peace with his open pro-Israel bias.
Mr Trump, if you genuinely have a peace plan, what are you waiting for? Let’s see it, else may I respectfully suggest you consider penning another best-seller — ‘The Art of the Flimflam.’
Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British political columnist and guest television commentator with a focus on the Middle East.