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CHINADAILY Editorial

Trump reckless to play with a match on a powder keg

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-12-06 17:40
US President Donald Trump delivers remarks recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at the White House in Washington, US December 6, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]


If United States President Donald Trump's previous foreign policy moves have by and large been driven by putting "America first", his intention to formally recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move the US embassy there would be at best described as ill-advised, more accurately dangerously foolhardy if carried out.

Whatever motivated his announcement, the potential consequences surely make it too costly to be put into action by anyone listening to reason.

Of course, it may be intended to shift public attention at home, even temporarily, away from the investigation which has now snared his former security advisor Michael Flynn. It may be intended to please his supporters and backers. And, of course, the Israeli government applauds it. But what else?

It will not advance US national interests. Nor will it further efforts to secure peace in the Middle East.

President Trump has an understandable eagerness to accomplish something big. So after declaring past engagement with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea a "failure", his administration has reportedly concluded "delaying the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has done nothing to achieve peace", ignoring such recognition's potential to put an end to any prospect of that being attainable.

Despite his proud confidence in himself as an exceptional dealmaker, and difference-maker, it is extremely dangerous for Trump to continue assuming knots of history are as simple to unravel as seems to believe.

No country has its embassy in Jerusalem, for good reason.

Admittedly, the idea of relocating the US embassy to Jerusalem was first proposed way before Trump began to play with it. The US Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, requiring the relocation while pragmatically giving presidents the power to delay. It has been delayed all the way till today, and not on an idle whim.

Past administrations demonstrated common prudence on the matter because of their shared awareness of the dire consequences that would result from doing otherwise. The long-standing US policy then has rightly been Jerusalem's final status must be decided through negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Trump has received warnings of the dire consequences that will result from carrying out the relocation from around the world. If he chooses to disregard their wise counsel, he will not only be going back on his words to Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas about his commitment to facilitating an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal and his administration’s pursuit of an "ultimate deal", he will effectively upend that policy and open a Pandora's box of turmoil in the region that experience suggests will be felt worldwide.

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