Last week I was invited by an editor of The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog to contribute an article focusing on the issues surrounding president-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The article, “Trump’s plan to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem could help the peace process”, was published yesterday:

In it I argue that come this spring, President Trump shouldn’t sign the waiver provision of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act and should instead move to implement the law because it would “bode well for Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects.”

As I highlighted in several prior LI posts (see here and here), both presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush made campaign promises to move the embassy, only to renege once they were in office.

But in the op-ed I note that Congress never intended for the waiver to be a “crutch for procrastination”. Further, the reasons that critics of the relocation give for delaying the move yet again—that it’ll unleash a wave of extremism; spark another Palestinian uprising; or drive a wedge between the United States and Arab states or Europe—simply don’t hold up.

I explain why these doomsday predictions are especially less true now that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed resolution 2334 last week. In fact, UNSCR 2334 makes it even more likely that Trump will honor his campaign promise. Here’s an excerpt:

relocating the embassy allows the Trump administration to reinforce that, unlike the Obama administration, it doesn’t consider settlements the key obstacle to peace. Trump will be particularly keen to make this distinction after the U.S. abstention on Friday’s United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 – which effectively declares illegal all Israeli presence beyond the 1949 armistice lines, including east Jerusalem.”

The goal of the Monkey Cage blog is to show how political science research can be used in public policy debates and how insights from this scholarship can help us to make sense of controversial topics. So in my op-ed I chose to apply conflict resolution theory to the issue of the U.S. embassy move, and showed how this approach lends support to Trump’s relocation plan:

a careful look at conflict resolution theory suggests that moving the embassy could be a constructive move, pushing Israelis and Palestinians back to negotiations.”

Bottom line: conflict resolution theorists have long argued that making clear, credible commitments is essential to peacemaking. Reversing the longtime U.S. diplomatic isolation of Jerusalem could prove a good example of how such ‘strong messages’ can serve the cause of peace.

Head over to The Washington Post to read the whole article. And share it widely on Facebook and Twitter, or email it to friends, using the link at Monkey Cage.

Miriam F. Elman is an associate professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University and is a research director in the Program for the Advancement of Research in Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC). She is the co-editor of “Jerusalem: Conflict and Cooperation in a Contested City,” (Syracuse University Press, 2014). Follow her on Twitter @MiriamElman


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