The Israel US dilemma

The Israeli Government under PM Bibi Netanyahu faces a dilemma over the attitude of the Trump Administration.  On the one hand, Trump himself and many of his appointees are individually very pro-Israel and have proposed several policies that would help Israel.  On the other hand, these policies have not yet been implemented and now the Trump Administration has told PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Lieberman, who is currently visiting Washington, that a construction freeze on the West Bank would help in future negotiations to arrange a deal with the Palestinians.

But, this is precisely what Obama was saying for years, and Bibi at one point did implement a 10 month building freeze, but it did not receive any positive response from the Palestinians.  Their attitude is always, make concessions, then give us more, without them giving any concessions back, a one-way street.  That is why Bibi refused to go along with any further freezes during the rest of the Obama presidency.  But, now Trump, or his State Department, is requesting the same thing.  Is it a case of here we go again, or is there something different involved?

Another area where there is confusion is moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.  It should be easy, just change the sign on the door of the US Consulate in Jerusalem.  But, it’s not as easy as that, since  the Consulate in Jerusalem is actually the US Embassy to the Palestinians, to the PA in Ramallah.  But, they can’t locate it there because it’s too dangerous.  So the Consulate in Jerusalem is completely independent of the Embassy in Israel and that is an anomaly.  In both cases, the move of the Embassy to Jerusalem and the existence of the independent consulate in Jerusalem, requires a waiver by the US President.  The question is will Trump allow the waivers to lapse of will he activate them again.  At this point no one knows.

In another policy area, the US has said that it might leave the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) because of its obsession with anti-Israel resolutions.  And Israel has asked the US to leave UNHCR.  But, so far there has been no decision about this, not about the more general question of funding of the UN, and particularly the pro-Palestinian activities of the UN, such as UNRWA, that perpetuate the Palestinian refugee problem and is supported about 25% by the USA.  These are all areas where resolute US action could have significant outcomes for Israel and materially change the stalemate situation.  But, so far Trump has not acted.


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