This week, the 45th President Donald Trump vowed to move the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Trump’s announced intention shook the political world, with allies of the United States and the Arab states warning the U.S. of possible danger and other detractors forecasting increased violence and unrest in the Middle East.
To those of you who are unaware of the full importance of Jerusalem (I don’t blame you) and think that this embassy controversy is being overblown, this proposed move is significant and more complicated than you might think.
Essentially, Jerusalem is the holiest city in the world, being a sacred site to three religions – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam- which arguably also happen to be some of the most prominent religions in the world today.
It’s an extremely risky move, but when analyzing Trump’s move, it is not that surprising.
Trump’s main presidential goal is to be everything the former-President Obama was not. And it’s no secret that U.S.- Israeli relations under Obama had significantly “cooled.” Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s increasing distrust of the U.S. stemmed from the perception that Obama was being a little too “Arab-friendly.”
To the Israelis, Jerusalem is their “true capital,” and many believe that the city rightfully belongs to Israel ever since the Israelis took ownership of it from Jordan following the Six-Day War. Therefore, Trump’s intention to move the U.S. embassy to what he deems to be the “true capital of Israel” can be seen as a complete reversal of Obama’s feelings towards Israel.
Obama was also incredibly weak in the Middle East, with detractors listing numerous failed opportunities in the Arab Spring revolts, Syria, and Libya. While Trump’s action could provoke a violent reaction from Palestine, as well as surrounding Arab states, it can be seen by some as a welcome reversal of Obama’s fecklessness in the Persian Gulf. Seemingly, Trump’s move can be seen as his intention to not let other Arab States “boss” the U.S. around and to be more forceful in the region. That is, after all, what Trump campaigned on.
Overall, the move is very hit or miss. The move could effectively reestablish a more forceful U.S. presence in the Middle East, as well as strengthen the ties of our long time ally Israel. However, the move could also greatly destabilise the region, lead to violent conflict, and disrupt any hope of a peaceful solution to the world’s greatest conflict.