On Wednesday, December 6, President Trump announced that the United States will now officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This decision is historic in its own right, not only because of the belabored history of the Holy City, but also for the decades of U.S. foreign policy that it upends.
This article isn’t so much a look at the ethical reasoning or lack thereof behind Trump’s decision. The object isn’t to condemn or approve of the new U.S. policy. Rather, the goal is to explain the diplomatic ramifications that the United States will undoubtedly face because of it.
Since its formation in 1948, the state of Israel has enjoyed a tense, yet accommodating relationship with the United States. It was President Truman who recognized the state of Israel as legitimate, simultaneously opening a new diplomatic connection with one nation and angering several others. With the exception of Jordan, no Arab nations have ever recognized Israel as a state, as many of them believe Palestine to be the rightful, recognized nation to occupy the location in question.
Which is part of the reason why President Trump’s announcement put the U.S. in a difficult diplomatic situation. For decades, the U.S. has taken a delicate approach to the matter. We support Israel financially, but haven’t recognized (until Wednesday, that is) their self-proclaimed capital of Jerusalem. This declaration is considered by many to be the foreign policy equivalent of a slap in the face to those who advocate for Palestine, placing the United States in an increasingly complicated situation with an already-tense region of the world. According to the Associated Press, there were already demonstrations in Gaza on Wednesday, including the burning of American and Israeli flags.
The Middle East was not the only region who opposed President Trump’s decision. Nearly all of the U.S.’s allies counseled strongly against it. The Guardian called the move a defiance of “overwhelming global opposition,” and unfortunately the move was not a necessary one. The week of December 6th only marked the deadline by which the U.S. had to decide whether or not to maintain the embassy in Tel Aviv or move it elsewhere. Making an announcement of this nature unprovoked sends a strong, clear, pro-Israel message to the world, further alienating a region where diplomacy matters the most, and confirming global assumptions of U.S. favoritism for Israel.
Which brings us to the reason why this is a diplomatic blunder. After 16 years of an incredibly taxing War on Terror, tense does not adequately describe the nature of the U.S.’s diplomatic footing in the Middle East. It is clear that we are not on good terms with most of the Arab nations of the world, and so this decision to announce clear support for Israel only aggravates that tension and draws us farther away from reaching peaceful resolutions to these decades-long conflicts.
This lack of global consciousness is slowly becoming a hallmark of the Trump administration’s “America First” foreign policy. It remains to be seen, however, how the implications of such policy will affect the international relations the United States currently enjoys.
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