Pursuant to the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, the U.S. Embassy must be moved to Jerusalem unless the president signs a waiver stating that delaying the embassy move is "necessary to protect the national interests of the United States." On June 1, the second day of Shavuot, President Donald Trump signed the waiver. He had promised to move the embassy on Day One of his administration. The New York Times noted that
The decision is Mr. Trump's latest shift away from campaign positions upending traditional foreign policy as the president spends more time in office and learns more about the trade-offs involved. He has reversed himself on declaring China a currency manipulator, backed off plans to lift sanctions against Russia, declared that NATO is not "obsolete" after all, opted for now not to rip up President Barack Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran and ordered a punitive strike against Syria that he previously opposed in similar circumstances.
Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama also signed the waiver every six months. Clinton and Bush promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem; Obama never promised to move the embassy.
Trump had harsh words for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Ben Caspit, one of the most reliable Middle East reporters, writes that Trump demanded explanations from Abbas about incitement and that Trump subjected Bibi "to steamroller pressure on the concessions that Israel will have to make and the need to quickly renew negotiations with the Palestinians." Caspit concludes that
What is needed to somehow resolve this complex situation is a "responsible adult," someone who will seize the authority to tell the two sides something along these lines: Fate has brought the Palestinian nation and the Israeli nation to the same plot of land. The Palestinians will not change, and evidently the Israelis won't either. All the useless arguments must be pushed aside and...courageous negotiations must be held on the core issues (borders, Jerusalem, refugees). The [Palestinians paying families of terrorists] problem should only be addressed afterward. Any other mode of action will only perpetuate the bloody conflict that embitters everyone's lives.
Is Trump the responsible adult who can conduct the mission? Many people might find the label "responsible adult" somewhat amusing when applied to Trump. With regard to everything connected to the negotiations, however, the president has so far revealed acute understanding, vision and execution. His problem is that the sides themselves don't really want to enter the negotiating room, despite statements to the contrary. Netanyahu is deathly afraid of negotiations, and Abbas knows that he will be obliged to make decisions that no Palestinian leader has made before him. It is doubtful that Trump could pull it off.
Why can't Trump pull it off? Because as Eliot Cohen explains, "At the moment, no Palestinian leader will accept an agreement that does not re-divide Jerusalem and provide for a right of return, but will acknowledge the legitimacy of the Jewish claim to the land of Israel. No Israeli leader can accept the former or conclude an agreement without the latter. Moreover, no sane Israeli, looking at the chaos engulfing Syria, the ominous pressures building in Jordan, and the active terrorist threat in Egypt can think that this is the right moment to put Ben Gurion airport within easy range of rockets and surface-to-air missiles from a new Palestinian state."
Congress should investigate the Saudi arms deal. Under President Obama, U.S.-Israel military and intelligence cooperation reached unprecedented levels. Now, Trump is making an unprecedented arms deal with Saudi Arabia that wasn't vetted in advance with Israel. Talk about daylight.
Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid said that Israel's entire security establishment is deeply concerned about the arms deal. Fortunately, some members of Congress are already taking action. This sale must be blocked to the extent that it could erode Israel's qualitative military edge. Please urge your members of Congress to speak out on this important issue.