Dec 6, 2017, 5:12 PM ET

ANALYSIS: In Jerusalem gamble, Trump may go bust

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President Donald Trump summed up his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the simplest of terms: “Old challenges demand new approaches.”

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That’s a succinct summation of Trumpian governing philosophy – the ethos of a confident dealmaker who’s willing to gamble to mix things up.

What’s been done before hasn’t worked, so the president is choosing to do something new – something a bipartisan majority in Congress explicitly endorsed more than 20 years ago.

But such logic begins to collapse in the morass that is the Middle East. It falls apart because of centuries of complicated history, of blood shed over spiritual and physical property, and of seven decades of American leadership that’s considered the case of modern Israel as the complex theological and geopolitical thicket that it is.

Mostly, though, it collapses because the plan from here … is no plan at all. Trump’s defenders are saying that you can’t blow up a peace process that doesn’t exist; his opponents might point out that this is precisely the point of why this could prove to be the wrong move at the wrong time.

PHOTO: Demonstrators burn posters of President Trump in Bethlehems Manger Square in protest over Trumps declaration of Jerusalem as Israels capital on Dec. 6, 2017.Musa al Shaer/AFP/Getty Images
Demonstrators burn posters of President Trump in Bethlehem's Manger Square in protest over Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Dec. 6, 2017.

Trump hailed his move as a “new approach,” and went out of his way to argue that the move does not pre-judge the outcomes of any peace negotiations.

“Those questions are up to the parties involved,” the president said. “The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides.”

Yet the U.S. role in facilitating Middle East peace – already a source of deep skepticism in the world community – is further drawn into question with the U.S. now planning on opening the only foreign embassy in Jerusalem. Israel’s seat of government is highly disputed territory that the Palestinian people consider to be their capital as well.

The broad peace-making initiative led by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, was already foundering.

Now, some worry, it may be doomed.

“The peace process is finished. They have already pre-empted the outcome,” one Palestinian official, Hanan Ashrawi, told the Associated Press.

Allies and enemies alike are expressing fear of a return to the cycles of violence that have set back decades of efforts to achieve Mideast peace. The next few days will be tense, with small acts holding the potential to have enormous consequences.

The move was cast as the president delivering on a campaign promise, and catering to his political base. Indeed, prominent conservative Jewish and evangelical leaders applauded the move as a bold stand that puts the United States on the right side of a long history.

Trump is serving those constituencies, and also a broader base that is sick of politically correct policies leading to stagnant outcomes.

“We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past,” he said Wednesday.

The president himself has called Middle East peace the “ultimate deal.” It’s hard to see the latest announcement as a step toward long and lasting peace.

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  • Randy rjjd

    gee why does so many want to blow us off the map again? I can't imagine why.....

  • Bob Bob

    I doubt if trump understands much about the middle east issues based on his limited understanding of most things.

  • Robulator

    A day of rage. What's new?

  • TexasVulcan

    Israel should have let Egypt keep Gaza. And Jordan the West Bank. We'd never have most of these problems.

  • loydfair

    jerusalem and israel are always
    intertwined regardless of who comes and goes in the "neighborhood "

  • bull123

    hey rick, you just don't get it...the arabs only want the total destruction of Israel....it is senseless and foolish to negotiate with them, ever

  • Bev Guyer

    Awe, cute! Look at Donnie showing off that he can write his own name!

  • tet1953

    Wow..approval down to 32%. I'm not sure I've seen a president lower than that. I wonder if he'll get down to the 20s.

  • Chris Peters

    Well you got one thing right...it is a gamble...a gambit more like. He's taking a chance that this will get him some much needed support from the Zionists who have not been totally on board with his ideas. It also tightens his support from Christian evangelists. So much is the desire.

    However, it comes at a price. He will lose some support from the Nationalists who are not fond of foreign interests undermining American policy, and it will do a great deal of damage on the international scene. So this is the cost.

    However, if Trump gets the support he desires from those he targeted with this move, and the Nationalists forgive him for now...he may garner enough domestic support to pull his plan through. But he needs a united front so that he can reestablish his international integrity. Fail to do that, and things dont work as intended and this gambit will be a loss. So lets hope the naysayers hop on board..and make this a winner.

  • Dave

    By misrepresenting the poster burning "ceremony" as a reflection of
    widespread Palestinian rage concerning Trump's policy on Jerusalem, the
    international media is once again complicit in promoting the propaganda
    of Palestinian spin doctors. The journalists, including photographers
    and camera crews, have been handed detailed schedules of events that
    will take place in different parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

  • Dave

    By misrepresenting the poster burning "ceremony" as a reflection of
    widespread Palestinian rage concerning Trump's policy on Jerusalem, the
    international media is once again complicit in promoting the propaganda
    of Palestinian spin doctors. The journalists, including photographers
    and camera crews, have been handed detailed schedules of events that
    will take place in different parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

  • Arijit Thakur

    Trump talks of shunning political correctness. Whether he really runs a crusade against political correctness or not is debatable. What we know for sure is that he shuns factual correctness most of the time. Is that a consciously chosen and brilliant strategy? I used to think it is - until recently. Now I think he goes against facts because he doesn't understand them. This move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital is another exemplifier.

    No peace imposed upon two feuding parties by a third lasts long. The feuding parties themselves must make peace. Since the Israeli as well as Palestinian hardliners are not ready for peace yet, the only thing all third parties can do here is help maintain the status quote until fatigue catches up with the idiots. Trump has not read history (has he read anything?). He can't comprehend.

    Inflamed passion in the middle east and relaxed gun control in the USA. Heady cocktail ahead.

  • caliento

    Palestine must immediately start looking & forging talks with the E.U. & Russia & totally refute any talks with Pence or anyone else from Trump's adm. What the hell for....enough is too much on how the U.S. has acted as Israeli's surrogate with delays so that Israel can continue stealing lands & building settlements. CANCEL & DO NOT accept talks with Pence/ Trump's adm. ....What the hell does Kuchner know about mid-east peace talks?.....Zero. You can only get progress thru the E.U & Russia.

  • kritikosman

    What a dumb move.

  • helicohunter

    There's no reason why the Palestinians would ever trust Jared Kushner. Rump never had any shot at brokering peace, not that that's an excuse for making things worse.

  • realitycheck

    Once again Trump has successfully isolated the USA turning most of our allies against us, just like Putin likes.....

  • Timehascome

    Surely someone else here saw Trump on video lose his cookies speaking afterwards by slurring his words/anxious/blood pressure sky rocketing????

  • Timehascome

    "Mr. Idiot President...you may have just Started A War!!!"

    Donnie T.:
    "Waaath di waaath? Gah Bleth Amaricccaaa becauth I kepth mi Camaine Promisth!"

    ("Trump had Dry Mouth"---White House Source)....

  • outer_rl

    Time for Palestinians to stop towing about the fake 2 state claim and start demanding equal rights and equal citizenship in Israel.

  • pfon71361

    Yesterday's announcement naming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and eventually placing our embassy there is largely symbolic for now. President Trump, never shy about tweaking the status quo, has made good on one of the few campaign promises he could accomplish entirely on his own. The actual relocation of the embassy will likely take years providing time for adjustments to this policy should they become necessary as world reaction becomes more fully crystallized. The dire plight of the Palestinian people remains precarious, however, and this bold declaration does absolutely nothing to change that situation. Kickstarting something sometimes results in just leaving an unwanted dent.

  • brickmette

    All this merely demonstrates, once again, that religion poisons everything.

  • tapatio

    This one little article buried by ABC. Not one mention here or in the rest of the mainstream media about the fact that this action and the 20 year old "law" that preceded it is in violation of international law to which the United States is signatory.

  • loydfair

    jerusalem and israel have been together since time immemorial...... i'm a christian ---
    progressive / liberal thinker ......... muslims got medina and mecca , i'm sure they should not mind sharing jerusalem with the greeks , armenians and catholics among others .......
    i mean christians ( armenians , greeks , catholics and or protestants ) don't share mecca
    or medina ............