Why the White House moved mission to Jerusalem

Global Times | 作者: Li Zixin | 时间: 2018-05-18 | 责编: 王嘉珮
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Amid widespread opposition of the international community, the US has opened its embassy in the disputed holy city of Jerusalem. A diplomatic move is usually the result of rational thinking, but despite this, why Washington took the largely controversial step is worth pondering over. 

To begin with, Donald Trump made a display of his support for Israelis during his presidential campaign. He bashed the Obama administration's relations with Israel and promised better ties on his watch. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem fulfilled his commitment and showed he is sincere in taking bilateral ties to a new level. 

Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner being of Jewish origin has also influenced the US president's decision. Although there is a feeling Kushner is being marginalized in the Trump administration's policymaking, his influence on US' Middle East policy is clear. New Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has supported the plan to enhance cooperation among the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia and endorsed the policy on Israel and Palestine influenced by Kushner. 

Guided by the "America First" doctrine, Trump has emphasized the role of the US' alliance system in managing regional situation. The US requires allies to take up more responsibility and simultaneously provides them with more political support. Trump's unconditioned support for Israel and Saudi Arabia consolidates the US alliance system in the Middle East, makes allies come closer and sets up the only strategic core for striking Iran. 

The US is aware relocation of the embassy will trigger turmoil in the region. However, considering the Middle East's geopolitical situation, the US believes such turmoil can be allowed.

After living a wretched life for long, Palestinians of different age groups spread across regions have changed their attitude toward Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Almost all of them approve of establishing a State of Palestine, and yet there is a rift over how to go about it. People in Gaza prefer force, while those in the West Bank long for equal civil rights and peaceful negotiations. Tens of thousands of Palestinians protested near the fence separating Gaza from Israel on Monday and suffered casualties as US opened its embassy in Jerusalem. Israeli authorities are able to cope with the strongest rebellion after years of blockade.

Saudi Arabia has always been one of Palestinian National Authority's most important foreign supporters, and has exerted strong influence on its politics, finance and religion. The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman, visited the US in March, and the two countries worked at cementing ties. Although the ruling Al Saud family of Saudi Arabia doesn't totally agree with the Trump administration's policies in the Middle East, they choose to strike a compromise over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict out of the need to keep Iran in check. 

Besides, piqued by the US' decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, Tehran is unable to interfere in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nor wish to provoke Israel at the risk of triggering a war. Troubles within and outside its borders have made Palestine's indignation ineffective. 

Palestine and Israel define the ongoing conflict differently because of their opposing stands. Palestine regards it a national liberation movement, while Israel calls it terrorism. What is undeniable is the disparity in strength between the two parties, and the weaker party can't expect the stronger's sympathy. Consequently, they lost mutual trust and a peaceful future would need long-term arduous efforts. 

The author is an assistant research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies. 


Source: Global Times, May 17, 2018.