President Trump's Wednesday announcement to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognize the holy city as the capital of Israel should come as a surprise. Not because of the controversy involved in the process, but because he became the first president to actually deliver on this particular campaign promise.
While the move could cause mass violence in the Middle East, it's actually an issue that's very much bipartisan in the U.S. Senate. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told the Weekly Standard on Tuesday that he, along with his colleagues, support the president on this policy.
"I believe that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, so to me, that’s not news," Schumer said.
The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, acknowledging Jerusalem as "an undivided city” to “be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel,” overwhelmingly passed the House and Senate but became law without former Clinton's signature. The move has been delayed every six months, Clinton, Bush, and Obama citing "security concerns" as the reason.
A June vote in the Senate reaffirmed the Jerusalem Embassy Act by a vote of 90 to 0. If any Democrat in the Senate views this move as a bad one, surely they haven't expressed it loudly enough.
Of all of Trump's policies, this one is the least controversial, as it deals with foreign policy. Still, people are mad, but their reasons aren't convincing.
The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas says the move "opens the gates of hell." For Hamas and others making the argument that this move will cause violence in the Middle East, the U.S. should, in principle, never waver from advancing its mission under the threat of violence. Apart from assisting the Israeli government through defense (like Obama's $38 billion Israeli aid package), the U.S. recognizes Palestine's right to self-determination and sovereignty. It's unfortunate, but the Palestinian National Authority is being held hostage by Hamas ever since the group won legislative elections in 2006. If Palestinians act aggressively in light of this announcement and harm innocent people violently as a response, should we really put that burden on Trump?
Hanan Ashrawi, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization, told CNN, "It means the death knell of any peace process and the destruction of the chances of peace in the region."
I don't know if the PLO has been hiding under a rock for the last 70 years, but there's never been peace in Israel, no matter what the move has been. Efforts to resolve the conflict have been constantly undermined by those who seek to destroy the other side. Even if Israelis stopped building settlements in the West Bank, there will be some Palestinians (who will arguably be the loudest) calling for Israelis to leave the Jewish state entirely, if not, calling for their death.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex. And like all geopolitical issues, there's no easy solution. The U.S. absolutely has a role to play in mediating a peace deal between the two sides. There's potential for a peace deal to completely evaporate, but moving the embassy to Jerusalem isn't the move that ends it.