Categories for Israel
FOREIGN POLICY/ISRAEL/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “US President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union touched on a number of international issues, including North Korea and the battle to defeat ISIS, but he didn’t offer any specifics and barely mentioned Russia or China… Here’s what he did include:
One of the Trump administration’s staunchest international allies, Israel was gifted a symbolic victory late last year, when the US announced the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
‘Shortly afterwards, dozens of countries voted in the United Nations General Assembly against America’s sovereign right to make this recognition. In 2016, American taxpayers generously sent those same countries more than $20 billion in aid, said Trump Tuesday.
‘That is why, tonight, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to friends of America, not enemies of America.’ “
-Euan McKirdy, “What Trump said about ISIS, Iran and North Korea in his State of the Union speech,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Jan. 31, 2018 03:51am
FOREIGN POLICY/ISRAEL/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “Very productive bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin @Netanyahu of Israel – in Davos, Switzerland! #WEF18 https://t.co/2sZM9YI7tJ”
-Donald Trump, Twitter.com, Jan. 25, 2018 01:03pm
FOREIGN POLICY/ISRAEL/PALESTINE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/TRUMP POSITION CHANGES: “U.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Thursday [1-25-18] to withhold aid to the Palestinians if they did not pursue peace with Israel, saying they had snubbed the United States by not meeting Vice President Mike Pence during a recent visit.
Trump, speaking after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland said he aimed for peace in the Middle East.
Palestinians shunned Pence’s visit to the region this month after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and vowed to begin moving the U.S. embassy to the city, whose status is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Trump’s endorsement in December of Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its capital drew universal condemnation from Arab leaders and criticism around the world. It also broke with decades of U.S. policy that the city’s status must be decided in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians… Washington had already said it would withhold about half the initial aid it planned to give a U.N. agency that serves the Palestinians.
A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the United States had taken itself ‘off the table’ as a peace mediator since it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
-Steve Holland and Yara Bayoumy, “Trump threatens to pull aid to Palestinians if they don’t pursue peace,” Reuters, Jan. 25, 2018 07:40am
FOREIGN POLICY/ISRAEL/MIKE PENCE/PALESTINE: “Vice President Mike Pence visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday [1-23-18], marking his last major official engagement in the city on his trip to the Middle East.
Pence slipped a personal note into the wall, and then placed his right hand on it to pray for a few moments. When asked shortly after by reporters how it felt to visit the Western Wall, he replied, ‘very inspiring.’
There were no representatives of the Israeli government present. Instead, he was received by the Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich. Pence was accompanied by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, among others.
Earlier Tuesday, the vice president visited Israel’s Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, where he laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance.
His first official engagement of the day saw him received at the residence of Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin…
In short remarks, Pence said President Donald Trump had sent him to Jerusalem ‘to reiterate our nation’s deep commitment to peace.’ He said he had been moved by listening to what Jerusalem means to followers of the three main religions there.
Pence’s trip to Israel comes a month after Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the country and move the US embassy there.”
-Andrew Carey and Maegan Vazquez, “Pence visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Jan. 23, 2018 07:57am
FOREIGN POLICY/ISRAEL/MIKE PENCE/PALESTINE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “Vice President Mike Pence on Monday [1-22-18] said the U.S. will open its embassy in Jerusalem next year, a move that Arab leaders warn undercuts efforts to reach a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.
In the final leg of a three-nation visit to the Middle East, Mr. Pence told Israel’s legislature that President Donald Trump was making good on his pledge to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv… Legislators in the Knesset stood and applauded Mr. Pence’s declaration…
Mr. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December and the relocation was initially expected to take several years. However, more recently U.S. officials have indicated the new embassy could open next year, as they look to modify an existing property rather than seek a new site.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Pence met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who thanked him and Mr. Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as the nation’s capital.
Standing beside Mr. Pence, Mr. Netanyahu said: ‘I’ve had the privilege over the years of standing here with hundreds of leaders and welcomed them, all of them, to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. This is the first time I stand here where both leaders can say those three words: *Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.*’ “
-Peter Nicholas, “Pence Says U.S. Will Open Embassy in Jerusalem Next Year,” The Wall Street Journal online, Jan. 22, 2018 10:54am
FOREIGN POLICY/ISRAEL/PALESTINE/REX TILLERSON/STATE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The Trump administration is accelerating efforts to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and has decided to modify an existing property to accommodate the new mission that will open next year, U.S. officials said.
The U.S. won’t be building a new structure, in a shift from what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and others from the Trump administration have said in describing the move recently. Mr. Tillerson has also said previously that the move is at least three years away…
People familiar with the plans say officials intend to reconfigure portions of an existing U.S. consular facility in West Jerusalem, an area Israel has held since 1948, so that it can be designated as the U.S. Embassy… Mr. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December and directed the State Department to begin to move the U.S. embassy there.
State Department officials at first said this would involve locating property and building a new facility, which could cost as much as $1 billion and take several years. Under that scenario, it might not have opened until a second Trump term or beyond.
Many career diplomats and others have been dismayed by Mr. Trump’s decision, which some believe has infuriated Palestinians while producing no obvious benefit to American diplomatic objectives.
But it was applauded by many Israeli officials and pro-Israel Americans. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters Wednesday that he expects the move to happen ‘within a year from today.’ “
-Felicia Schwartz and Jess Bravin, “Trump Administration Accelerating Israeli Embassy Move,” The Wall Street Journal online, Jan. 18, 2018 08:22pm
FOREIGN POLICY/ISRAEL/PALESTINE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority said on Sunday [1-14-18] that Israel had killed the Oslo Accords and angrily assailed the Trump administration over its handling of the conflict. He vowed to reject American leadership of any peace talks and urged Palestinians to reconsider their signed agreements with Israel… Mr. Abbas, 82, stopped well short of embracing an alternative to a two-state solution, the project around which he has built his career. The number of Israelis and Palestinians who hold out hope that such a solution can be achieved is dwindling, but Mr. Abbas said nothing about abandoning it.
He also shied away from urging the kind of provocative acts, like ending the Palestinian Authority’s security cooperation with Israel or disbanding the authority itself, that could raise the costs of occupation for Israel and shake officials in Jerusalem and Washington.
Indeed, Mr. Abbas, who reaffirmed his commitment to nonviolence and stopping terrorism, seemed to hold out hope of a return to negotiations — but with someone other than the United States leading the way.”
-David M. Halbfinger, “Abbas Calls Oslo Accords Dead and Blasts U.S.: ‘Damn Your Money!’,” The New York Times online, Jan. 14, 2018
CONFLICT OF INTERESTS/ETHICS/ISRAEL/TRUMP FAMILY/JARED KUSHNER: “Last May, Jared Kushner accompanied President Trump, his father-in-law, on the pair’s first diplomatic trip to Israel, part of Mr. Kushner’s White House assignment to achieve peace in the Middle East.
Shortly before, his family real estate company received a roughly $30 million investment from Menora Mivtachim, an insurer that is one of Israel’s largest financial institutions, according to a Menora executive.
The deal, which was not made public, pumped significant new equity into 10 Maryland apartment complexes controlled by Mr. Kushner’s firm. While Mr. Kushner has sold parts of his business since taking a White House job last year, he still has stakes in most of the family empire — including the apartment buildings in and around Baltimore.
The Menora transaction is the latest financial arrangement that has surfaced between Mr. Kushner’s family business and Israeli partners, including one of the country’s wealthiest families and a large Israeli bank that is the subject of a United States criminal investigation.”
-Jesse Drucker, “Kushner’s Financial Ties to Israel Deepen Even With Mideast Diplomatic Role,” The New York Times online, Jan. 7, 2018
ISRAEL/LEGAL/LOBBYING/MICHAEL FLYNN/NIKKI HALEY/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/UN: “In the days before a late-2016 vote on a United Nations resolution that criticized Israel, then-President-elect Donald Trump and top aides made a last-ditch push to target a majority of the U.N. Security Council to scuttle the text, people familiar with the situation said.
The lobbying effort, which ultimately failed, was wider and more intense than has been reported, according to interviews with dozens of diplomats and U.S. officials. It was also conducted against the wishes of the sitting U.S. government. The Obama administration’s decision to abstain from the vote criticizing Israel’s settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank was what enabled the Security Council to pass a resolution condemning the country’s settlements for the first time in 36 years.
The December 2016 push by Mr. Trump and his transition team came at the request of Israel and involved top aides including the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, former national security adviser Mike Flynn and the current U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, according to the people familiar with the matter.
Though the diplomatic effort was ultimately fruitless, Mr. Flynn’s lies about it to federal officials have formed part of the basis of the December plea deal he struck that requires him to cooperate with investigators looking into whether the Trump team colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election—something both the White House and the Kremlin have repeatedly denied. That criminal probe is led by special counsel Robert Mueller…
Lawyers for Messrs. Flynn and Kushner declined to comment. Ms. Haley didn’t respond to a request for comment.”
-Kate O’Keeffe and Farnaz Fassihi, “Inside the Trump Team’s Push on Israel Vote That Mike Flynn Lied About,” The Wall Street Journal online, Jan. 5, 2018 07:00am
FOREIGN POLICY/IRAN/ISRAEL/PALESTINE/PROTESTS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “Israel and the U.S. are amplifying criticism of Iran’s role in Middle East conflicts, part of a coordinated effort to curb Tehran’s influence in the region as antigovernment protests put pressure on the country’s leaders.
Since protests began last week in Iran, Israel has accused Tehran of setting up a terrorist cell in the Palestinian West Bank and blamed Iran for supplying mortars fired on Israeli territory by militants from the Gaza Strip. Iran hasn’t responded to the allegations… When the new year started, U.S. officials said, domestic protest in Iran wasn’t expected to be at the top of the Trump administration agenda. But the demonstrations are now part of the administration’s evolving effort to cast Iran as an international pariah… White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders this week said that ‘years of mismanagement, corruption, and foreign adventurism have eroded the Iranian people’s trust in their leaders.’
U.S. and Israeli criticism of Iranian meddling comes as the White House and Israel jointly work on a broad strategy of countering Tehran’s regional influence after significant disagreements on the issue between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Obama administration, U.S. and Israeli officials said.
National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat, took part in discussions last month about a joint strategy. The effort includes measures to combat Iranian proliferation of arms and aims to ensure Tehran doesn’t win a long-term foothold in Syria, an Israeli official said.”
-Rory Jones and Dion Nissenbaum, “Israel and U.S. Ramp Up Criticism of Iran’s Actions Abroad,” The Wall Street Journal online, Jan. 4, 2018 06:14pm
FOREIGN POLICY/ISRAEL/PAKISTAN: “It’s not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to for nothing, but also many other countries, and others. As an example, we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue… peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”
-Donald Trump, Twitter.com, Jan. 2, 2018 05:37pm to 05:37pm
FOREIGN POLICY/ISRAEL/PALESTINE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “An emboldened Israeli right wing is moving quickly in the new year to make it far more difficult to create a Palestinian state, signaling its intention to doom hopes for a two-state solution to the conflict.
The actions have come on multiple fronts, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party for the first time has urged the annexation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and the nation’s top legal officers pressed to extend Israeli law into occupied territory.
In addition, the Israeli Parliament, after a late-night debate, voted early Tuesday [1-2-18] to enact stiff new obstacles to any potential land-for-peace deal involving Jerusalem, while abandoning at the last minute a measure that would have eased the way to rid the city of several overwhelmingly Palestinian neighborhoods.
Coming on the heels of President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in defiance of decades-old United States policy and international consensus, the moves showed that the Israeli right senses a new opening to pursue its goal of a single state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean…
But Palestinians and Israeli supporters of a two-state solution said the moves revealed the true colors of the country’s ascendant right wing.”
-David M. Halbfinger, “Emboldened Israeli Right Presses Moves to Doom 2-State Solution,” The New York Times online, Jan. 1, 2018
FOREIGN POLICY/ISRAEL/PALESTINE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/UN: “The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Thursday for a resolution effectively rebuking U.S. President Donald Trump for recognizing the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and pledging to move the U.S. embassy there.
The vote came despite threats by Mr. Trump and U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley that the U.S. would take punitive measures, such as reducing foreign aid and cutting contributions to the U.N., against countries voting in favor of the resolution.
The General Assembly resolution didn’t explicitly refer to the U.S., instead asserting that unilateral decisions such as Mr. Trump’s have no legal effect and must be rescinded. In the vote, 128 countries voted in favor and 9 against, with 35 abstaining…
It remained unclear immediately after the vote precisely what the U.S. would do in retaliation for the vote. Neither Ms. Haley nor the White House spelled out specific responses.
Many U.N. diplomats said Thursday that while they valued their alliance with the U.S., their own longstanding policies on the status of Jerusalem are in line with international law and U.N. resolutions that don’t recognize the city as the capital of Israel in the absence of a peace deal.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu denounced the approach taken by Mr. Trump and Ms. Haley, who said in an email to representatives of more than 180 countries a day earlier that the U.S. would take down the names of those who vote against it.”
-Farnaz Fassihi, “U.N. Vote Rebukes U.S. for Jerusalem Move,” The Wall Street Journal online, Dec. 21, 2017 12:49pm
FOREIGN POLICY/ISRAEL/MIKE PENCE/PALESTINE: “Vice President Mike Pence’s planned visit to the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity, ought to have had a particular poignancy in the days before Christmas…
But then on Dec. 6, President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, smashing seven decades of American policy and provoking violent protests. One by one, Christian leaders publicly canceled their meetings with Mr. Pence.
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority — a critical figure in the Trump administration’s ambitious plans for a sweeping Middle East peace deal — also canceled.
Then Mr. Pence himself canceled the whole trip, saying he needed to stay in Washington to oversee an important tax reform vote — an assertion that drew a measure of skepticism.
A White House official also said it was ‘not practically possible’ for Mr. Pence to travel because the tax vote would have pushed his trip against the Jewish holiday of Shabbat and Christmas.
Now, as he prepares for his tentatively rescheduled trip in mid-January, the unanimous chorus of rejection from Christian leaders bodes ominously for his ambitions for the visit.”
-Declan Walsh, “Pence’s Christmas Pilgrimage Is Canceled. His Next Mideast Move Is Complicated.,” The New York Times online, Dec. 20, 2017
FOREIGN POLICY/ISRAEL/PALESTINE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/UN: “President Donald Trump on Wednesday [12-20-17] threatened to cut American aid to countries that back a United Nations resolution faulting the recent U.S. decision to declare Jerusalem Israel’s capital…
The U.N. General Assembly will meet Thursday in an emergency session to vote on a measure the U.S. blocked earlier this week at the Security Council, which called on the Trump administration to rescind its decision to move the embassy and recognize Jerusalem as the capital. The measure had the support of all other members of the Security Council, including U.S. allies France and the U.K.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said Tuesday evening that the U.S. “will be taking names” at Thursday’s General Assembly vote…
In Thursday’s vote, the U.N. resolution, sponsored by Egypt, is expected to pass with a wide majority of the body’s 196 nations voting in favor, according to diplomats.
Ms. Haley sent an email to ambassadors of U.N. member states on Tuesday saying she would report to Mr. Trump about any countries voting in favor of the resolution…
Mr. Trump, speaking alongside cabinet members, singled out Ms. Haley and her message to U.N. member states for praise…
The resolution up for vote on Thursday doesn’t directly name the U.S. or Mr. Trump. It reaffirms the status of Jerusalem as a disputed area and says all parties and individuals must rescind any unilateral decision on its status and to refrain from moving their diplomatic missions to the holy city.
Mr. Trump’s warning to slash American aid holds potential implications for key U.S. allies. Egypt, which introduced the draft resolution, is slated to receive $1.38 billion in U.S. aid in 2018.”
-Felicia Schwartz and Farnaz Fassihi, “Trump Threatens Countries That Oppose His Decision on Jerusalem,” The Wall Street Journal online, Dec. 20, 2017 04:40pm
ISRAEL/PALESTINE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/UN: “U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday [12-20-17] threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that vote in favor of a draft United Nations resolution calling for the United States to withdraw its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital…
The 193-member U.N. General Assembly will hold a rare emergency special session on Thursday – at the request of Arab and Muslim countries – to vote on a draft resolution, which was vetoed by the United States on Monday in the 15-member U.N. Security Council.
The remaining 14 Security Council members voted in favor of the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which did not specifically mention the United States or Trump but which expressed ‘deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.’
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, in a letter to dozens of U.N. states on Tuesday seen by Reuters, warned that Trump had asked her to ‘report back on those countries who voted against us.’…
A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also declined to comment on Trump’s remarks on Wednesday.”
-Roberta Rampton and Michelle Nichols, “Trump threatens to cut aid to U.N. members over Jerusalem vote,” Reuters, Dec. 20, 2017 09:16am
ISRAEL/PALESTINE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/UN: “The 193-member United Nations General Assembly will hold a rare emergency special session on Thursday [12-21-17] at the request of Arab and Muslim states on U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Palestinian U.N. envoy Riyad Mansour said the General Assembly would vote on a draft resolution calling for Trump’s declaration to be withdrawn, which was vetoed by the United States in the 15-member U.N. Security Council on Monday.
The remaining 14 Security Council members voted in favour of the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which did not specifically mention the United States or Trump but which expressed ‘deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.’
Mansour said on Monday he hoped there would be ‘overwhelming support’ in the General Assembly for the resolution. Such a vote is non-binding, but carries political weight.”
-Michelle Nichols, “After U.S. veto, U.N. General Assembly to meet on Jerusalem status,” Reuters, Dec. 19, 2017 07:52am
FOREIGN POLICY/ISRAEL/MIKE PENCE/TAXES: “US Vice President Mike Pence has delayed his upcoming visit to Israel for several days, spokespeople for the Speaker of the Israeli Parliament and Foreign Ministry and Pence’s office told CNN on Thursday [12-14-17].
The delay comes as Congress prepares to vote on a sweeping tax reform bill, and amid an ongoing outcry over President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US embassy to the holy city.
Pence’s vote could be crucial to Republican hopes of passing a major tax reform bill before the end of the year. With Republicans holding a slim 52-48 majority in the Senate — and some key Republican senators still uncommitted — Pence holds the tiebreaking vote in the event of an even split. Delaying the Jerusalem visit and keeping the vice president in Washington allows Pence to cast that vote if tax reform moves forward next week.
Pence’s office confirmed he will now leave Washington on Tuesday, stopping in Egypt for a brief visit before arriving in Israel for a multi-day visit.”
-Oren Liebermann and James Masters, “Pence’s visit to Israel delayed,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, Dec. 14, 2017 09:39am
HOLIDAY/ISRAEL/PALESTINE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The Israeli town of Nazareth has canceled Christmas celebrations, with the mayor saying the end of festivities is due to President Trump.
Mayor Ali Salam, who presides over the town in northern Israel of mostly Muslims and Christians, announced Thursday that planned events such as a Christmas market and festival were called off.
He cited the U.S. decision directly and said that it had taken the ‘joy’ from the celebrations in the hometown of Jesus Christ, according to 10 News.
The Israeli channel added that the Christmas events normally are a huge boost to the city’s economy.
Salam’s Christmas cancellation comes as part of continued backlash against Trump, who reversed decades of policy and made the U.S. the only country to recognize the contested city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
-Christopher Brennan, “Nazareth cancels Christmas celebration over Trump Jerusalem move,” New York Daily News, Dec. 14, 2017 08:04am
ISRAEL/PALESTINE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/TRUMP FAMILY/TRUMP PEOPLE/JARED KUSHNER: “European Union officials warned the Trump administration not to go it alone in its Middle East peace efforts as the bloc’s foreign ministers said they wouldn’t follow the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
EU foreign ministers on Monday [12-10-17] morning met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was making his first official trip to the bloc’s capital, to discuss the situation in the Middle East.
The U.S. has been working on a peace plan, which officials say it intends to present in 2018.
Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Jason Greenblatt, the president’s chief negotiator, have spent months meeting with the Israelis, Palestinians and other Arab officials to get input for their plan, which they are crafting.
EU foreign- policy chief Federica Mogherini on Monday afternoon said the U.S. is an indispensable player in any peace processl but warned that Washington must secure international backing for its eventual proposals…
The EU has a role in the peace process as one of the members of the Quartet group, which also includes the U.S., the United Nations and Russia, tasked with advancing the peace process.
Any peace proposal would need buy-in from regional countries willing to eventually recognize Israel in exchange for peace. It would also need strong international backing to help enforce and implement any agreement.”
-Laurence Norman, “EU Officials Urge U.S. to Not Go It Alone on Mideast Peace Efforts,” The Wall Street Journal online, Dec. 11, 2017 12:55pm
FOREIGN POLICY/ISRAEL/PALESTINE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “Pockets of anger surfaced Sunday [12-10-17] in the Middle East and Asia over the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but predictions of widespread upheaval failed to materialize as riots petered out in the Palestinian territories.
In a sign of festering regional dissent, protesters gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Beirut on Sunday, with Lebanese security forces firing tear gas and water cannons at demonstrators. Protesters carried Palestinian flags and set fire to tires near the embassy but the unrest had largely calmed by late afternoon.
The decision by the White House last week to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy there from Tel Aviv was widely condemned in Lebanon, which hosts about half a million Palestinian refugees—representing roughly 10% of the country’s population…
Arab and Muslim leaders have warned President Donald Trump’s decision could spark a Palestinian uprising against Israel and violence across the Mideast, as well as complicate the peace process.
However, after three days of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces that left four Palestinians dead, the scene Sunday was quieter in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
-Rory Jones, “Mideast Tensions Simmer in Wake of U.S. Shift in Israel Policy,” The Wall Street Journal online, Dec. 10, 2017 11:44pm
ISRAEL/PALESTINE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “Lebanese security forces on Sunday [12-10-17] fired tear gas and water cannons into crowds that had gathered near the United States Embassy, in a sign that protests against President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel may be escalating.
Thousands of protesters chanted slogans against Mr. Trump’s orders, which involves moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, with some throwing rocks and setting tires and a large trash container on fire outside the embassy’s highly secured gated compound in a suburb north of the capital, Beirut.
Some protesters tried to rip the barbed wire off a fence, but they were repelled by the security forces, who fired a barrage of tear gas and sent them running, with many choking from the smoke, vomiting or fainting.
Mr. Trump’s decision, which dealt a blow to the idea of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, has been widely condemned across the Arab world and beyond. The Arab League, which held an emergency meeting in Cairo, on Sunday denounced Mr. Trump’s announcement as a ‘dangerous violation of international law.’…
The Taliban, Hamas and Shia extremist leaders also vowed bloodshed after the move, though the Islamic State has played down its significance and criticized fellow extremist groups.
In Lebanon, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and President Michel Aoun both condemned Mr. Trump’s decision. Mr. Hariri said the United States move foreshadowed dangers for the region.”
-Nada Homsi and Anne Barnard, “Protests in Lebanon Near U.S. Embassy After Trump’s Jerusalem Decision,” The New York Times online, Dec. 10, 2017
FOREIGN POLICY/ISRAEL/NIKKI HALEY/PALESTINE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/UN: “U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Sunday defended President Donald Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel and begin to move the U.S. embassy, calling it a courageous move that would further the Mideast peace process despite scattered protests world-wide and widespread condemnation.
‘No President, not Clinton, not Bush, not Obama, actually had the courage to make that move and listen to the will of the American people,’ Ms. Haley said on CNN’s State of the Union. ‘The president did the will of the people. When it comes to those people upset, we knew that was going to happen. But courage does cause that.’
She framed the move as beneficial to the peace process, in addition to allowing the president to keep a campaign promise. Previous presidents have declined to move the embassy after saying they would on the campaign trail, out of concern doing so could affect peace talks and because of security concerns…
Mr. Trump faced a deadline last week to sign a waiver to keep the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv or move it to Jerusalem, per a 1995 law. Mr. Trump quietly signed the waiver last week, but declared Jerusalem the capital and directed the State Department to begin the yearslong process of moving the embassy.
On CBS, Ms. Haley said Mr. Trump’s decision neither gave up a bargaining chip in future talks, nor provided an incentive for Israelis to make later compromises…
Ms. Haley said the U.S. would be prepared to accept East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, if the parties agree to it.”
-Felicia Schwartz, “U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley Defends Trump’s Jerusalem Declaration,” The Wall Street Journal online, Dec. 10, 2017 11:55am
FRANCE/ISRAEL/PALESTINE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “A year ago, no one would have envisioned President Emmanuel Macron of France as the public face of Western diplomacy in the Middle East. But that is not the case anymore.
President Trump’s decision this past week to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, his anti-Muslim tweets and his State Department staffing cuts have signaled to many a retreat of American diplomacy.
That has made room for those who want to expand their presence on the world stage, Mr. Macron among them. He has quickly embraced a more visible role in the Middle East, especially as Britain and Germany have become more deeply preoccupied with domestic politics.
Mr. Macron called Mr. Trump two days ahead of the American president’s recognition of Jerusalem to tell him that France was ‘troubled’ by the move.
He personally intervened in November to stabilize Lebanon when the country’s prime minister resigned and many believed Saudi Arabia was behind it. He weighed in with a plan to halt sub-Saharan migrants before they could reach Libya. Now, Mr. Macron is positioning France to help shape the postwar policy in Syria.
By contrast, the United States has seemed reluctant to engage in policymaking in any detail in Syria, leaving the field open for Russia to play the largest part.”
-Alissa J. Rubin, “Macron Steps Into Middle East Role as U.S. Retreats,” The New York Times online, Dec. 9, 2017
ISRAEL/PALESTINE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/UN: “Fourteen of the 15 members of United Nations Security Council on Friday condemned President Donald Trump’s decision this week to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saying it was in violation of U.N. resolutions and international law.
The Council held an emergency meeting on Friday [12-8-17] to discuss Jerusalem at the request of several members. The Council didn’t issue a statement, which would have required U.S. endorsement. Members also didn’t propose a resolution, because it could be vetoed by the U.S.
Instead, in a rebuke to Mr. Trump, diplomats for nearly three hours discussed the U.S. stance and said that their countries don’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. They agreed Jerusalem was a contested city under international law and represents the future shared capital of both Israel and Palestine, once a two-state solution is reached…
Three U.N. Security Council resolutions and a resolution by the General Assembly specify Jerusalem as one of the core issues—along with Jewish settlements, borders and right of refugees to return—that must be negotiated in the final stages of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.”
-Farnaz Fassihi, “Fourteen of 15 Security Council Members Denounce U.S. Stance on Jerusalem,” The Wall Street Journal online, Dec. 8, 2017 07:06pm