The Writing on the Wall: San Francisco Chronicle, 16 May 2018

Editorial, p. A9:

The Trump Administration has exported its politics of provocation to the last place that needs it, the Middle East. The all-too predictable immediate result has been carnage. The long-term consequences are likely to be worse.

Like President Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement last week, his relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday stoked tensions and emboldened hardliners on all sides. They include those who urged protesters to storm a border fence in Hamas-ruled Gaza, about 40 miles from the wilfully oblivious celebration of the new embassy. Israeli soldiers responded with tear gas and gunfire, leaving at least 60 dead and 2,000 wounded.

The disputed status of Jerusalem, in light of its religious and political importance to Jews and Palestinians alike, has long been regarded as one of a few key controversies to be resolved by peace talks. Trump’s recognition of the holy city as Israel’s capital would be a monumental concession to one side if anything had been gained or even asked in return. As effected, it was just a gift Trump bestowed on his evangelical political base, and by extension himself, at the expense of lives, American standing and prospects for peace.

Whether Trump takes the need for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations seriously might be guessed from his decision to entrust the job to his callow son-in-law, Jared Kushner, along with a laughable litany of other assignments for which he has no obvious qualifications.

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