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Has Trump gone soft on Jerusalem Embassy move after threats of violence?

Has Trump gone soft on Jerusalem Embassy move after threats of violence?

Capitulation to Palestinian and Islamist threats will simply encourage even more threats and intransigence.

Donald Trump repeatedly promised to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.

That promise was made not only during the campaign, but after the election.

In response, the Palestinians did what they always do — internationalize the conflict coupled with threats of violence.

Numerous high officials in the Palestinian Authority issued increasingly vitriolic threats and attempts to turn the Embassy move into an act against Islam. We explored these threats and strategy in prior posts:

In light of these threats, I asked Will Trump capitulate to Palestinian threats over U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem?:

Capitulation encourages more threats of violence, and actual violence, as a Palestinian policy tool. Calling their bluff could be a major move towards peace, as it will remove threats as a negotiating position.

Will Trump capitulate?

Since that post, Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian leaders have succeeded in internationalize the incitement, as even anti-American Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is getting in on the act:

Moving the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be a declaration of war on Islam, influential Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said Tuesday.

“Transferring the US Embassy to Jerusalem would be a public and more-explicit-than-ever declaration of war against Islam,” he said in a statement.

Sadr, a firebrand Shiite cleric whose militia once fought US occupation forces in Iraq, called for the “formation of a special division to liberate Jerusalem were the decision to be implemented.”

Sadr said the Cairo-based Arab League as well as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the world’s main pan-Islamic body, should take a decisive stand on the issue or dissolve themselves.

Abbas also appealed to the Russians for help, reiterating his threats:

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has turned to Russian president Vladimir Putin for help preventing the proposed United States embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, AFP reported on Friday.

PA official Saeb Erekat communicated the request from Abbas to Putin in Moscow in the form of a letter. “The letter asks President Putin to do what he can about the information we have that President-elect Donald Trump will move the embassy to Jerusalem, which for us is a red line and dangerous,” he said after meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Until Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s press briefing yesterday, I would have said there was no way Trump would capitulate. But then Spicer dropped what was a bombshell — that no decision had been made whether to move the Embassy and that discussions were only in the “very early stages”:

I’m still looking for a longer video clip, but in the statement above Spicer mentioned the administration was working with the State Department about the move.

That “no decision” position was reiterated today:

The question rises again, has Trump capitulated to Islamist threats of violence?

This has all the appearances of the State Department using its historically poor judgment about the Arab world to slow walk and stymie Trump’s promise to move the Embassy.

Yoam Ettinger writes, President Trump vs. the Department of State:

In order to avoid the failed Middle East track record of all US Presidents, since 1948, President Trump should refrain from – rather than repeat – the systematic errors committed by his predecessors.

They were misguided by the political correctness and conventional “wisdom” of the US State Department, which courted Saddam Hussein until the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, embraced Ayatollah Khomeini, betrayed the Shah of Iran, identified with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, deserted Mubarak, heralded Arafat as a messenger of peace, facilitated the Hamas takeover of Gaza, and welcomed the Arab Tsunami as “Arab Spring, a transition toward democracy.” The State Department has sacrificed the 1,400-year-old complex, disintegrating, unpredictable, volcanic, violently-intolerant and frenzied Middle East reality on the altar of well-intentioned, but oversimplified and futile attempts to reset the Middle East in accordance with a Western state-of-mind and values.

It may be that Trump has not changed his plans.

But regardless of the intentions, it appears to be capitulation, and will further encourage more threats and Palestinian intransigence.


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Perhaps Israel needs some lead time to be prepared for the violence. It can be a benefit when your enemy declares their plans before they take action so you can get ready.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

casualobserver | January 24, 2017 at 8:11 pm

I wonder if Israel is a key factor in the apparent cooling on the rhetoric. For them, the consequences from the region including Palestinians and Iran is much more tangible and bloody. Since they’ve moved ahead with settlements this could be a step too far. For now. Risk/reward not right just yet.

i don’t see Trump as someone who backs down on a promise…

ICBW, but he’s lived up to all of his so far, and i agree that it’s not the sort of thing that can be done immediately.

patience, grasshopper.

Henry Hawkins | January 24, 2017 at 8:30 pm

Perhaps he’s waiting for Tillerson to get confirmed and settled at the State Dept.?

    clintack in reply to Henry Hawkins. | January 24, 2017 at 9:00 pm


    And Friedman (sp?) as Ambassador to Israel.

    I’ll believe they’re backpedaling on this promise only if they still seem soft on it after those two are confirmed.

    great unknown in reply to Henry Hawkins. | January 24, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    Confirmed, yes. Settled in, maybe. But for a CEO working for another CEO, that means about three days or so.

    And they might be waiting to get the Ambassador to Israel approved and set up there. He’s going to work out of Yerushalayim regardless.

    Another signal to watch. Will the State Department recognize Yerushalayim as the capital of Israel and start stamping babies’ passports accordingly? Per the Supreme Court in 2015, this is completely at the discretion of the Executive Branch.

Good grief, you can’t even get a building permit in the amount of time Trump has been in office. Heck, the press was whining about how little Trump was getting done in office a month before he was *IN* office.

All in good time.

We cannot allow moslims to dictate to us were are embassy will be. Screw’m.

I’m thinking that Trump doesn’t want to announce the move until he’s sure he has all the right players in place to defend US interests. The first, of course, being a confirmed SecState. The second, close coordination with Israel (Bibi is visiting next month). And the third, our military assets fully prepared to put the hurt on PA terrorists and their sympathizers.

Moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a BIIIIIG deal. The Israelis want the embassy moved to increase their claim to Jerusalem. The Palestinians, and every other anti-Israeli faction in the world do not want it moved, in order to give them greater leverage against Israel. But, Trump is the “America First” President. He should not make a knee jerk decision in this matter. Rather, he should make a well thought out decision based upon a thorough examination of all the potentialities here. And, there is no real hurry to make a decision, from the American perspective.

There is a very good chance that the embassy will be moved, after a period of preparation. Then again, it may not be moved. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Did you factor in today’s announcement of 2500 new settlements?

This is part of the can of worms Obama opened with his UN stunt.

    casualobserver in reply to lonetown. | January 24, 2017 at 11:37 pm

    That was the point in my earlier post. Is real Is probably asking the administration to hold off on the embassy. Settlements are more valuable right now in making their case in the region. And the more reasons Palestinians have for violence at once, the more bloody it is for Israel. Spread it out.

      JusticeDelivered in reply to casualobserver. | January 25, 2017 at 3:12 pm

      Alternatively, announce that any violence will met with with a 1000 or 10,000 or 100,000 kill ratio. And then follow through with such.

    Milhouse in reply to lonetown. | January 25, 2017 at 1:23 am

    What 2500 new settlements? There is not even one new settlement planned, and there haven’t been any new settlements in years. The government has approved 2500 new housing units. a 32-unit building in a large town is 32 housing units. That’s a much-needed but tiny increase, to slightly ease the housing shortage in many of those towns and villages (mostly way too large to be called “settlements”).

      mailman in reply to Milhouse. | January 25, 2017 at 9:22 am

      Lets call them what they are! 2500 HOMES!

      Settlements is the language of BDS. The ONLY country on the face of the planet that the term settlement is used specifically to remove any links to humanity is Israel. And that is to make it easier to kill jews…after all, settlements are bad right!

President Trump – say nothing more, until it’s done.

This was a predictable reaction from the many opposing parties. However, it’s too soon to predict what path Trump and interested parties will follow.

I agree Henry and others. Shouldn’t make a move like this till the Dept most effected have a leader

Israel should establish an International Court of AntiSemetic Crimes against Humanity; in East Jerusalem. Issue warrants. Bring them in.

Why is there a picture of Andy Robinson?

Has Trump gone soft on Jerusalem Embassy move after threats of violence?

I think it unlikely. As other commenters have noted above, initially I believe that he’s waiting for Sec. State confirmation and Israel Ambassador confirmation.

Also, making the change while simple on paper, has some complex on-the-ground issues: The main embassy staff need to be prepared to move to the new location for visibility purposes, security needs to be enhanced, all the infrastructure needs to be confirmed to be in working order (telephone, internet, secured communications), confirmed ingress and egress routes for staff in the event of a major attack need to be mapped out, subterranean review needs to be done to make sure the squatters haven’t tunneled under the building and set it up for an attack.

Moreover, I think that President Trump is simply waiting for the right moment to announce it. PM Netanyahu IS coming to visit in about a month. Imagine the squatters heads exploding if President Trump announces in a Rose Garden press conference or in the East Wing with Netanyahu standing right next to him that “Today, I have ordered, and the State Department has implemented, a change which moves the Israel embassy of the United States from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the eternal, undivided capital of Israel. Specifically, the official Embassy now exists in a hardened location in East Jerusalem. In the interest of efficiency, services will remain available at secondary locations in Tel Aviv and at the Jerusalem US Consulate General in Israel.”

Then, he can start building a bigger, more secure, modern embassy complex in Eastern Jerusalem at the State Department’s leisure.

One of the few good bits from “Batman Forever” applies herein:

“Your entrance was good, his was better. The difference: showmanship!”

A note to the Professor: If your contacts in Israel have the time, inclination and desire to keep us updated, if you could get them once a week to run by the Consulate General of the US in West Jerusalem at David Flusser St 14, Jerusalem, 9378322, and/or the “27 Nablus Road” address in East Jerusalem where citizen and visa services used to be operated out of, and see if any major obvious hardening or construction operations are quickly occurring there, that would tell us something.

If we suddenly see a new set of barriers, new wall or an extra-thickness of wall or a contingent of Marines suddenly show up there to provide extra security, we’ll know that something is going on.

    Milhouse in reply to Chuck Skinner. | January 25, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    There’s no need for any of that. an embassy doesn’t need to be any harder than the two consulates already are. Unscrew the plaques on the current embassy in TA and on one of the two consulates in J’m, and swap them. Reprint some stationery. If Friedman is planning to live in his apartment in J’m then he’s going to need guards outside it, regardless of where the embassy is.

      The Embassy doesn’t ~have~ to be any harder than the current embassy and consulate currently is.

      ~HOWEVER~ It SHOULD be.

      Just because it can be done immediately doesn’t mean that it should be done without some serious security review and additional hardening of the structures. We have at least one KNOWN terrorist group (HAMAS), and terrorist sympathizers (in the Palestinian Authority) making noise about “violence” that WILL occur if the embassy is moved and it being seen as an “act of war” against Islam.

      The LAST thing in the world that you want right now is a dead ambassador. The Left would hoist it up as a giant middle finger to the new State department and the willing accomplices in the media would then use it to bash the Trump administration for it’s reckless acts while at the same time reviving the Benghazi investigation as a giant political witch hunt merely to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations.

      If I remember correctly, Francis Maloy Jr. Ambassador to Lebanon was assaulted, kidnapped, rolled up in a rug and then shot, right around the geopolitical corner by Islamic extremists in 1976.

      Also, if I remember correctly, Cleo A. Noel, Jr. was killed in Saudi Arabia by Black September, a division of the PLO in 1973.

      So, TWO of the SIX Ambassadors that have been killed in office via terrorist actions in the last 250 years have been by PLO or Islamic extremists related to the Middle-east conflict (two others have died in plane crashes, for a total of eight having died in office, ever).

      So, it’s not as if the threat of violence being made is an idle chatter without a history of being implemented.

      Better to make the buildings as hard as possible, then if/when they are attacked, be ready to retaliate against the PA/HAMAS with brutal, crushing force as a show to the world that if you engage in this type of act against a United States interest, that the United States will respond with such force so that enemy will never rise again. (and yes, Zachriel, at that point I WOULD be advocating genocidal levels of force).

That’s what I meant Henry. I think the move is fine, just once leadership is in place.