By Marc Lynch
President Trump Wednesday announced a radical departure in U.S. Middle East policy by declaring American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This recognition fulfilled a campaign promise and delivered on a long-standing Israeli demand, while infuriating Palestinians, Arabs and most of the international community. While the U.S. Embassy itself will not move for years, and Trump carefully noted that the borders of Jerusalem would have to be determined through negotiations, there was a strong sense of an irrevocable shift.
Here are three things to understand about the regional politics of Trump’s Jerusalem gambit.
There is no real peace process to disrupt.
Much of the commentary over the recognition has focused on its impact on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. This is likely overstated.
The status of Jerusalem has always been one of the key issues set aside for final status negotiations. Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has traditionally been understood as a major concession that could be offered to Israel in exchange for an agreement on other issues such as borders, settlements, or the return of Palestinian refugees. Trump gave Israel this prize for nothing, while offering Palestinians nothing of consequence in exchange. While preemptively giving away a prime bargaining chip seems like an odd …read more
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