As U.S. Embassy moves to Jerusalem and Gaza rages, where is Trump's promised peace plan?
A day after the historic opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, residents woke on Tuesday to a new reality in the contested city. Monday's opening amid bloodshed in Gaza has fuelled global concern that US policies are roiling the region. (May 15)
Rather than 'the ultimate deal' in the Middle East, new violence erupts between Israelis and Palestinians at a border fence in Gaza: Our view
To Donald Trump, peace between Israelis and Palestinians would be "the ultimate deal."
"I'm going to give it a shot," then-candidate Trump said in 2016 of achieving a historic agreement in the Middle East. "It would be so great."
Yes, it would be. But more than a year into his presidency, there's still no Trump peace plan. Rather, there's a new eruption of violence.
ANOTHER VIEW: Move could have a positive impact in the long run
Young Palestinians fueled by rage and despair threw themselves against a border fence separating Gaza from Israel, leaving at least 60 of them dead and 2,700 injured Monday as American and Israeli officials celebrated the move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Americans chose Trump in part because he vowed to break with orthodoxy on dealing with trade and intractable foreign policy problems. His decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy fit neatly within this new doctrine. Past presidents made the same promise. "This president delivered," Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser on Middle East peace, said during Monday's festivities.
True enough. But Trump also promised to deliver a detailed blueprint for guiding Israelis and Palestinians toward reconciliation. The embassy move, a step long coveted by Israel, could have been a carrot to facilitate peace.
Now that carrot has been given away. Palestinians see it as betrayal — a flashing indicator that the United States has chosen sides and can no longer serve as an honest, impartial broker of peace in the region. Trump's promise to be "sort of a neutral guy" has disintegrated, and Palestinian leaders are no longer talking with him.
Trump's promised deal is being crafted not by career diplomats but by three novices to such complexity: Kushner, who recently lost his top-secret security clearance; Jason Greenblatt, special representative for international negotiations and an ex-Trump Organization chief legal officer; and David Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer named U.S. ambassador to Israel.
Where previous presidents offered broad frameworks for Middle East peace so as not to immediately alienate one side or the other, Trump's team argues for a series of specific steps to move parties toward resolutions that can include a two-state solution. If what happened Monday is any indication, prospects for such a solution are growing ever more distant.
In densely populated Gaza, where two-thirds of the nearly 2 million people are younger than 25 and joblessness is 44%, misery is rampant. Young people, urged on by a failing Hamas government backed by Iran, are being gunned down at the border by Israeli security troops.
Trump's Middle East policy has had all the subtlety of swatting a hornets' nest with a stick. If he truly has a plan for peace, now would be a good time to see it.
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