Last Wednesday, President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital from the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room. He equally expressed his desire to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Acknowledging the concerns and even opposition of others, Trump reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to assisting Israelis and Palestinians in arriving at a peace agreement. Trump also stressed that his declaration should not be equated with a position on “any of the final status issues.” Notwithstanding these assurances, many have sharply criticized the president’s decision. At the same time, protests have erupted around the globe. These public displays of anger have seemingly justified the concerns of some over Trump’s announcement. Reaction has not been wholly negative though. Some have praised the president for showing courage and honoring a promise that was made during his campaign.
With this declaration, Donald Trump again demonstrated that he does not fear turning the political world on its head. Prime Minister Theresa May promptly expressed her concern over his decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize it as the Israeli capital prior to a final status agreement. May actually branded the move “unhelpful.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel added to the chorus of disapproval. Explaining her dismay, Merkel stated that the status of Jerusalem is an issue to be settled “in the framework of a two-state solution.” French President Emmanuel Macron weighed in on Trump’s action with a statement on Twitter.
Macron expressed his support for a two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of both states. He further declared that appeasement and dialogue should be favored as the best tools by which peace can be established.
Protests have equally taken place in different parts of the world with a consistent message for the American president: Your decision puts the peace process in peril. These demonstrations have lent credence to the fears expressed by the aforementioned world leaders as well as others and have even served to punctuate them.
Trump does have support for his decision, however. Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu said that this was “an important step toward peace.” In addition, American politicians such as Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers have expressed strong support for the president’s decision.
Furthermore, Trump has received a measure of support from Dennis Ross, whom President Clinton named envoy to the Middle East in 1993, and David Makovsky, who served in the Office of the Secretary of State from 2013 to 2014 as a senior advisor during the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. The two gentlemen wrote an article in which they argued that Trump’s action was not a “disaster.”American-Israeli journalist, Caroline Glick, went several steps further by praising the president’s “act of political and moral courage.”
Hence, some see Donald Trump as courageous whereas others view him more as reckless. Still, in trying to move what have been, at times, difficult negotiations forward, Trump might just be a, if not the, necessary catalyst.