Another bad precedent, after Palestinian threats also delayed move of U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem
If history proves one thing, it’s that giving in to Palestinian threats only leads to intransigence and more threats. Unfortunately, for the second time the Trump administration has walked back an announced policy in just such a circumstance.
The first walk back had to do with moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is Israel’s capital. That was a core Trump campaign promise, reiterated during the transition.
As Prof. Miriam Elman explained in a prior post, locating the Embassy in Jerusalem would have a profoundly positive impact on the prospects for peace, since it would signal that Arab and Muslim threats of violence against the Jewish presence in Jerusalem would be futile, Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, for peace sake:
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.
But the prospect of moving the Embassy met with threats of violence, as I documented in Palestinian leadership: There will be violence if U.S. moves Embassy to Jerusalem and Will Trump capitulate to Palestinian threats over U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem?
Unfortunately, Trump capitulated in June, Trump delays U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem:
Today was the deadline for Trump to sign a “waiver” which is being portrayed as delaying the U.S. Embassy move for at least 6 months. That’s not technically true; the waiver in question doesn’t directly address the move, it addressed budget cuts the State Department would bear under congressional legislation, as Prof. Eugene Kontorovich explained….
By failing to sign the waiver, Trump effectively could have forced the State Department to make the move under threat of severe budget cuts, without Trump doing a thing.
But Trump signed the waiver today….
The waiver appears to be capitulation, if not to outright threats of violence at least to Palestinian negotiating tactics. This is a mistake.
Trump could have made a bold decision, but now that he has expressed his desire to close the ultimate deal, the Jerusalem Embassy once again is held hostage to Palestinian threats.
Now capitulation has happened again.
I wrote the other day of how, as required by U.S. law, the State Department notified the Palestine Liberation Organization that the PLO office in D.C. would be closed because of Mahmoud Abbas’ attempt to take Israelis to the International Criminal Court. The Palestinians reacted as expected, Palestinian Negotiator: If PLO D.C. office closed, we’ll cut off communications with Trump Admin:
Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian negotiator Secretary-General of the PLO executive committee , is a major league blow-hard. Erekat recently underwent a lung transplant at a hospital in Fairfax, Virginia, after undergoing 5 years of treatment in Israel.
Erekat apparently has regained lung capacity because he is huffing and puffing about retaliation.
The PLO tweeted out this video of Erekat threatening to cut off communions with the Trump administration if the PLO office is closed:
“In case they unofficially [sic] close the office of the PLO in Washington, D.C., we would put on hold all out communications with this American administration.”
AP reports on the result, US backtracks on decision to close Palestinian office in DC:
… the United States delayed shuttering the office for a week while saying it was working out the details with the Palestinians, before abruptly reversing course late Friday, as many Americans were enjoying a long Thanksgiving Day weekend. State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said the US had “advised the PLO Office to limit its activities to those related to achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.”
Vasquez said even those restrictions will be lifted after 90 days if the US determines the Israelis and Palestinians are engaged in serious peace talks. The White House, in an effort led by Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, has been preparing a comprehensive peace plan to present to both sides in the coming months.
“We therefore are optimistic that at the end of this 90-day period, the political process may be sufficiently advanced that the president will be in a position to allow the PLO office to resume full operations,” Vasquez said….
Asked how the Trump administration explains its new interpretation of about what must happen if the Palestinians call for an ICC investigation, Vasquez said: “These actions are consistent with the President’s authorities to conduct the foreign relations of the United States.”
There were no indications that the Trump administration had initially moved to close the office as part of a premeditated strategy to strengthen its hand in eventual peace talks. Instead, officials explained the move by saying Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a strict interpretation of the law, determined that Abbas’s speech had crossed the legal line.
Announcing important policy positions then backtracking on them after Palestinian threats is worse than never having made the policy positions at all.
The lesson the Palestinian negotiators have learned is that threats and bluster get better results than compromise.DONATE
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