US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel may play well with his domestic political base but is a big risk and would derail the peace process in the volatile Middle East, top American media outlets warned today. Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital yesterday, reversing nearly seven decades of US and international policy on the holy city. In an editorial, The Washington Post said Trump cast himself as setting aside failed conventional wisdom — he pointed out there has been no peace deal — and of offering a fresh approach. “That’s a stance that may play well with his domestic political base and with many Israelis. But Trump is implicitly betting that previous presidents were wrong to worry about blowback in the Middle East and beyond. That’s a big risk to take for the scoring of political points,” the daily said. In its lead editorial, the daily said so far, Trump’s decision has been rejected by every major US ally in Europe and the Middle East, including Britain, France, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
“It will put considerable pressure on Jordan, Israel’s fragile neighbour, whose King Abdullah II sees himself as a protector of Jerusalem’s holy Muslim sites. It will probably make it harder to promote a tacit alliance between Israel and Sunni Arab states against Iran, as Tehran will surely exploit the Jerusalem issue,” the daily said. “It will also virtually ensure that Palestinian leaders respond unfavourably to the peace initiative the Trump administration says it is preparing. If violence erupts in Jerusalem or elsewhere in the Middle East — and extremists will do their best to make that happen — Trump will be blamed,” the Post said.
The New York Times says Trump’s decision to tip the scales toward Israel on this critical matter almost certainly will make an agreement harder to reach by inflaming doubts about America’s honesty and fairness as a broker in negotiations, raising new tension in the region and perhaps inciting violence. “The constituency Trump is most clearly courting is his own political base of evangelicals and other pro-Israel hard- liners,” it said, adding the big winner is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose hard-line government has shown no serious interest in peace, at least not a two-state solution that could win Palestinian support. However, The Wall Street Journal in its lead editorial said Trump’s decision is hardly the radical policy departure that critics claim and Trump accompanied it with an embrace of the two-state solution for Palestine that Presidents of both parties have long supported.
“Trump called his decision yesterday “a recognition of reality,” and he is right. Israel’s parliament, Supreme Court and the president and prime minister’s residences are housed in Jerusalem and US Presidents and Secretaries of State meet their Israeli counterparts there,” the daily said. Meanwhile, two White House officials told CNN that this would derail the peace process. “We’re prepared for derailment — temporary, I hope. Pretty sure it will be temporary,” a senior White House official, told the network. The official acknowledged that the President’s peace team has not spoken with furious Palestinian officials since the Trump’s announcement.
“A lot of people put their heads into this decision to see how do we make this happen without at the same time throwing the peace process out of the window,” one of the officials said. “In terms of a moment where it could happen, where it could be the least disruptive at a moment in time, this is the moment. We know there will be some short term pain, but think it will help in the long run,” the second senior official told CNN. Fox News said Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city is an acknowledgement of historical fact and current reality. “Bold actions can prompt new thinking and stimulate initiatives to advance peace,” it said. “US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is an act of constructive diplomacy – not, as one Palestinian leader proclaimed, a declaration of war,” it asserted.