The Consulate General in Jerusalem is actually the US’s oldest diplomatic outpost. It was originally the US embassy, for lack of a better term, to the Sublime Porte as the Ottoman central government was known. It now functions as the US diplomatic mission to the Palestinians. So before anything else does or does not happen tomorrow, there already is, and has been for over 200 years, a US embassy in Jerusalem.
Before I lay out the various reporting, let me provide my bottom line up front”
It is absolutely silly to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and/or move the US Embassy to Israel to Jerusalem in exchange for nothing. It is poor strategy, it is bad policy, it is a pointless and ultimately self defeating tactic, and it is diplomatically backwards. The reason the US hasn’t moved it’s embassy to Israel to Jerusalem and/or recognized Israel as Jerusalem’s capital isn’t just the security concerns. It is because either of these potential changes in US policy are most effectively used as motivational carrots to cajole the Israelis into negotiating in, if not good faith, then better faith. Unilaterally giving these to the Israelis removes very valuable and effective leverage from the US’s diplomatic tool kit.
1) If the President does recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, I expect violence.
2) If he announces we’re moving the embassy to Jerusalem, I expect a new intifada, not just three days of rage. And how the Israelis respond, will determine just how bad the protests, three days of rage, and/or a new intifada are.
3) Regardless of 1 or 2 if the proposed peace plan that is being reported on is actually announced in 2018 and it is anywhere close to what is being reported on, which has been Netanyahu’s default preference since at least 2014, I expect a new intifada. But it won’t stop there. ISIS and al Qaeda will look to leverage this, as well as broad Arab and Muslim anger over it, to increase recruitment, justify, and expand operations. But not just in the Middle East. You’ll see an attempted expansion/expansion of ISIS and al Qaeda activities in Central and Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, and the US. The US led Coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria will be at increased jeopardy as a result of this.
4) 1 will be bad, 2 will be worse. 3 is going to be a huge honking nightmare. Between what we think/is likely to happen tomorrow and the leaked details of the Saudi backed, US proposed peace plan Mahmoud Abbas has no room to maneuver. The potential/proposed peace plan will be dead on arrival. There will be an increase in violence within and across the region that will spread. And the US’s growing isolation as a diminished influence in the region and within the global system will be accelerated. And the friends of Bibi’s that are handling the US peace proposal efforts for the President are only going to accelerate Israel’s isolation from the allies it’s made in the Arab and Muslim world and from both the EU and the states that it represents.
Noga Tanorpolsky, who does a lot of reporting regarding Israel, has been covering the Schroedinger’s cat back and forth on what tomorrow’s announcement may or may not actually include. She starts with the practical reality that the President clearly indicated he was going to do recognize Jerusalem as Israelis capital and, most likely, also move the US Embassy to Israel.
Then accurately recognizing the reality TV angle that the President likes to take:
Before letting the snark flow freely:
We still don’t actually know exactly what the President is going to announce tomorrow. I’ve seen reporting that indicates he is going to announce that Jerusalem is Israel’s, and only Israel’s, capital. I’ve seen other reporting that he’s just going to announce that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and leave the only part out. And the reporting also seems to include that the President may announce that he is both going to move the embassy some time in the future (which is not news as he’s been saying this for two years) and that he’s also given instructions to figure out the details involved. So we will have to wait and see just what is announced tomorrow and how bad things may get.
The State Department, and, apparently the Department of Defense are trying to stay out of the line of fire on this whole issue.
And the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas are on the same page.
Ha’aretz reports that the President’s expected announcement is uniting not just the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, but all the other states in the region, as well as the EU and Russia in their opposition to his expected decision and announcement.
Abdullah also warned Trump of the decision’s repercussions on Middle East security and stability. Abdullah pledged he would thwart any American initiative to renew the peace process and would encourage resistance among Muslims and Christians alike.
King Salman told Trump that transferring the embasy is a dangerous step that will inflame feelings of Muslims.
Following their conversatisons with Trump, Abdullah and Abbas reportedly spoke and decided to act in complete coordination following Trump’s decision.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that if Trump goes ahead with the decision, Turkey will cut diplomatic ties with Israel. He added that Jerusalem is “a red line for Muslims.” Israel responded that “Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital for 3,000 years.”
Egypt has warned of “possible dangerous repercussions” if U.S. President Donald Trump follows through on plans to recognize contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Arab League Chief Ahmed Abdoul Gheit said Tuesday that any step changing Jerusalem’s status quo would be a “dangerous measure that would have repercussions” throughout the Middle East. He encouraged Trump to reconsider his decision.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said that any action would undermine a two-state solution, and must be avoided.
German and French leaders also expressed concern at Trump’s potential decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. French President Emmanuel Macron said the Jerusalem issue must be dealt with “in the framework of peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Now we wait and see just how badly the US is going to shoot itself in the foot.