Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Clamoring for Israeli Approval:
Election Promises Will Haunt Him
By Ramzy Baroud
CCUN, February 3, 2017
US President Donald Trump promises to be pro-Israel in every
‘I'm the best thing that could ever happen to Israel,’ he
boasted at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s Presidential Forum in
Washington DC, in December, 2015.
For a brief moment, Trump
appeared as if rethinking his unconditional support for Israel, when in
February 2016, the Republican presidential nominee pledged ‘neutrality’
between Palestinians and Israelis.
“Let me be sort of a neutral
said during an MSNBC town hall meeting.
Since then, this
position has been surpassed by the most regressive rhetoric, beginning with
his speech before the Israeli lobby (AIPAC) conference, the following month.
As for Israel, its expectations of the US President are very
clear: unconditional financial and military support, blank check to expand
illegal settlements in Occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank and an end
to any form of political ‘pressure’ through attempting to revive the
so-called ‘peace process’.
Not that Trump has had any qualms with
these expectations. The real challenge was that his main rival, Hillary
Clinton, was an unprecedentedly ardent supporter of Israel.
was completely brazen in her groveling before the pro-Israel lobby.
Reflecting on the death of former Israeli President Shimon Peres, she told
Jewish leaders, “When he spoke, to me it was like listening to a psalm, and
I loved sitting and listening to him whether it was about Israel, the nation
he loved and did so much to defend, or about peace or just about life
She promised them to “protect Israel from
de-legitimization”, as reported
in the Israeli newspaper, ‘Haaretz’ - ‘De-legitimization’ meaning the
attempts by civil society groups around the world to boycott Israel for
failing to respect international law and the rights of occupied
This is the kind of political landscape that Trump,
essentially a businessman not a politician, needed to navigate. In a foray
of hasty moves, he has agreed to give Israel what it sought, but going even
further than any other US president in modern history by promising to move
the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
It was a clever move at
the time, enough to match Clinton’s love offerings for Israel and make Trump
the darling of Israel’s rightwing politicians, who now control the
The fall-out of that promise, if implemented, however, will
prove very costly.
If Trump goes through with this, he is likely
to unleash chaos in an already volatile region.
The move, which is now
reportedly in the ‘beginning
stages’, is not merely a symbolic one, as some have reported in western
Trump, known for his impulsive nature, is
threatening to eradicate even the little common sense that historically
governed US foreign policy conduct in the Middle East.
was occupied in two different stages, first by Zionist militias in 1948 and
then, by the Israeli army in 1967.
Understanding the centrality of
Jerusalem to the whole region, British colonialists who had won a League of
Nation mandate over Palestine in 1922, were keen for Jerusalem to remain an
Israel, however, took the city by force,
referencing some self-serving interpretation of biblical text that
supposedly designates Jerusalem as the ‘eternal’ capital of the Jewish
In 1980, Israel officially annexed Jerusalem in violation
of international law to the dismay of the international community that has continually
rejected and condemned Israeli occupation.
Even countries that are considered allies of Israel - including the
United States - reject Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and refuse the
Israeli invitation to relocate their embassies from Tel Aviv to the
Yet, since 1995, the US position has
vacillated between the historically pro-Israel US Congress and the equally
pro-Israel, but more pragmatic White House.
In October 1995, the
US Congress passed the Jerusalem
Embassy Act. The Act was passed by an overwhelming majority in both the
House and Senate. It called Jerusalem the undivided capital of Israel and
urged the State Department to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.
administrations under Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack
Obama have signed a presidential waiver that deferred the Congressional
bill, six months at a time.
time the waiver was signed by former President Obama was on December 1,
Now, the opportunistic real-estate mogul enters the White House
with an alarming agenda that looks identical to that of the current Israeli
government of right-wingers and ultra-nationalists.
"We have now
reached the point where envoys from one country to the other could almost
switch places," wrote Palestinian Professor, Rashid
Khalidi, in the ‘New Yorker’.
This comes at the worst
possible time, as new bills are springing up in the Israeli Knesset to annex
even the Jewish settlements rendered illegal by Israel’s own definitions,
remove any restriction on new settlement construction and expansion.
Over the course of just a few days following Trump’s inauguration, the
Israeli government has ordered the construction of thousands
of new housing units in Occupied Jerusalem.
allies of the US and Israel are alarmed by the grim possibilities resulting
from the nascent Trump-Israel alliance.
Speaking to the Paris
peace conference on January 15, French Foreign Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault,
warned Trump about the "very serious consequences" that await in case
the US embassy is, in fact, moved to Jerusalem.
Arabs understand that moving the embassy is far from being a symbolic move,
but a carte blanche to complete the Israeli takeover of the city - including
its holy sites - and complete the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Muslims
The Trump administration’s gamble in moving the US
embassy is likely to ignite a political fire throughout Palestine and the
Middle East with horrific and irreversible outcomes.
the significance of Jerusalem to Palestinian Muslims and Christians, and
hundreds of millions of believers around the world, Trump might, indeed, be
igniting a powder keg that would further derail his already embattled
In a recent
interview with ‘Fox News’, Trump restated the tired jargon of how
‘badly’ Israel has been treated and that relations between Washington and
Tel Aviv have been ‘repaired.’
But he then refused to talk about
moving the embassy because “it’s too early.”
This might be his way
of back-tracking in order to avert a crisis. It is a downgraded position
from that stated by his senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, who had recently
stated that moving the embassy is a 'very big priority.'
the embassy move is delayed, the danger still remains, as Jewish settlements
are now growing exponentially, thus compromising the status of the city.
The fact is that Trump’s lack of clear foreign policy that aims at
creating stability -not rash decisions to win lobby approval - is a
dangerous political strategy.
He wants to reverse the legacy of his
predecessor, yet has no legacy of his own, which is the very formula needed
to invite more violence and to push an already volatile region further into
- Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle
East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a
media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of
PalestineChronicle.com. His books include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second
Palestinian Intifada” and his latest “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter:
Gaza’s Untold Story”. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.
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