January 23, 2017

How Trump can move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

By Ilan Goldenberg

For years, presidential candidates have promised to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem only to renege after entering office. President Donald Trump appears serious about breaking this precedent, and there is rampant speculation in the Israeli press that he may announce this move in the next few days.

Moving the embassy would upend 50 years of American policy, which has held that the issue of Jerusalem can be negotiated only between Israelis and Palestinians. It’s a high-stakes move, and, given the religious sensitivity around it, it could spark violence targeted at American diplomatic facilities across the Middle East. But Trump could fulfill his pledge, while mitigating some negative consequences, if he were to pair it with another radical move: formal recognition of the state of Palestine. On the surface, such a move may seem entirely unrealistic. But for a deal-maker like Trump who wants to shake up policy across the U.S. government, it could represent an attractive compromise.

The underlying dispute in the U.S. on this issue is less about whether Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel. Since 1996, both party platforms have called for acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Instead, the dispute is strategic about whether moving the U.S. Embassy would help—or set back—the prospect for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Read the full article at Politico.

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