Trump 'didn't seem to have a full understanding' of his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital

'It's insane,' one White House adviser says

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Thursday 07 December 2017 19:04 GMT
Palestinian children look at vandalised graffiti depicting US President Donald Trump and slogans against US Vice President Mike Pence painted on Israel's controversial separation barrier in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
Palestinian children look at vandalised graffiti depicting US President Donald Trump and slogans against US Vice President Mike Pence painted on Israel's controversial separation barrier in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. (Getty)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


US President Donald Trump is said to have not fully understood the consequences of his decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that "the decision wasn’t driven by the peace process...the decision was driven by his campaign promise.”

Mr Trump was more concerned with “seeming pro-Israel” and “making a deal”, according to advisers who spoke to the Washington Post.

“This has gone on long enough. Other presidents have put it off, put it off. We’re not going to put it off,” Mr Trump reportedly said at a New York event during which he gave a preview of the decision.

During his announcement, Mr Trump said the decision was “long overdue” and "nothing more or less than recognition of reality.”

Mr Trump had repeatedly promised to be more cognisant of Israeli concerns during the 2016 campaign, painting himself as far more pro-Israel than his predecessor President Barack Obama - who had an openly cold relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The President had been advised by Vice President Mike Pence, as well as son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner to go through with the plan.

Mr Kushner is a longtime family friend of Mr Netanyahu, and his parents have contributed to Israeli settlements in territories in dispute with Palestinians.

The President appointed his daughter Ivanka’s husband as the lead on brokering a Middle East peace deal, despite Mr Kushner’s total lack of foreign policy experience.

“It’s insane. We’re all resistant...He doesn’t realise what all he could trigger by doing this,” one source, called a “confidant” of the president told the newspaper.

Donald Trump officially recognises Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary James Mattis were among senior officials who advised Mr Trump against breaking decades of US foreign policy.

They and others feared it would be the beginning of chaos and violence in the region as a Hamas spokesman said it "opens the gates of hell".

The “decision on Jerusalem will not succeed in changing the fact that Jerusalem is an Arab Muslim land," said the spokesman of the militant group that controls Gaza.

Phone calls to Jordan and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas were notifications rather than discussions after a series of meetings during which the President was reluctant to listen, according to sources that spoke to the newspaper.

Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Mr Abbas, said that despite the leader’s objections and reasoning, Mr Trump “just went on saying he had to do it.”

The same type of “one-sided conversation” took place with ally Jordanian King Abdullah II, according to a Washington-based official who was briefed on the call.

The embassy move will likely require at least three to four more years of planning, construction, and budgeting.

Mr Trump clarified in his announcement that the move is "not intended in any way to reflect a departure from" a mutually acceptable peace deal and a two-state solution, should "both sides" agree to it.

The "US remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement," Mr Trump noted during the announcement.

However, allies are still in the dark about Mr Kushner’s manoeuvring on that peace deal and protests broke out in and around Jerusalem this morning.

​Hamas called the decision about the city - home to holy sites for Jews, Muslims, and Christians - "a red line".

The statement was unequivocal: "the resistance will not allow any desecration of it."

The group has also repeatedly called for a Palestinian "day of rage" on 8 December.

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