Jerusalem has become a item of negotiation to force Palestinians into an agreement

Eli Lake:
Donald Trump's presidency so far has followed a pattern of disruption. He snubs European allies. He tweets in atrocious grammar. He pulls out of international agreements. He shakes things up.

But in one important respect, Trump's presidency appears entirely conventional. That is in the Middle East. Like his recent predecessors, he promised during the presidential campaign to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. And like his predecessors, he violated that promise now that he is in office.

So why did Trump do it? "To maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians," according to a White House statement issued Thursday on his decision to sign a waiver of the Jerusalem Embassy Act, that would have set in motion the process for the U.S. moving its embassy to Israel's capital. It doesn't get much more conventional than that. What modern president hasn't tried to maximize the chances of that ever-elusive peace deal?

It would be easy to end the story there. But in this case, Trump has left open the possibility that he will eventually keep his campaign promise: "As he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when," the White House statement also said.
If the Palestinians walk away from negotiations with Israel again they will do so with the knowledge that the US embassy will be in Jerusalem. In the past, I think the Palestinians used Jerusalem as a wedge issue and an excuse not to do a deal.  Trump is now turning the tables on that ploy.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians are reported to have paid out a billion dollars to terrorist in just the last four years.


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