Tillerson and Jerusalem

What has Tillerson got to do with Jerusalem?  Here’s my analysis.  The White House announced that US Secty. of State Rex Tillerson will be resigning in January and will be replaced by current CIA Director Mike Pompeo.  On the same day it was reported that Pres. Trump is imminently preparing to announce that the US will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and will move the US Embassy there.  Are these reports coincidental or not?

I say they are connected.  Tillerson and Trump have been at odds several times over the last few months.  Tillerson is a former oil company executive and has very good relations with Saudi Arabia and the Arab world.  He is not considered a friend of Israel.  Pres. Trump and his Administration have been considered the best friends that Israel has had, especially after the Obama Administration.  Tillerson and Trump have disagreed publicly over the Middle East and North Korea.  When Tillerson sought to emphasize diplomacy, Trump sought to emphasize US military power.  Tillerson represents the State Department that is traditionally pro-Arab and anti-Israel, and definitely support the two-state solution to the Middle East conflict, while Trump and his representatives  have tried to consider other more innovative solutions.

On June 1, Trump reactivated the waiver in the 1995 law that enables the President to delay the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by another 6 months.  But, Trump has been reported to have said he will not do this again.  Once Tillerson has gone and Trump has a more friendly representative at State, maybe he can finally act to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, as VP Mike Pence stated in a  speech the other day that he was preparing to do imminently.

However, the White House press spokesman emphasized that this report is premature.  And this brings up a perennial problem.  The Palestinians and the Arab world have threatened that there will be negative consequences for the US and rioting all over if Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  This kind of threat usually works. For example, recently the White House announced that the PLO office in Washington would be closed.  But, after the PA cut off all relations with the US, the Administration backtracked and allowed it to stay open subject to certain limitations.  So it remains to be seen whether or not Trump,. who promised on many occasions during the campaign to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem will keep his word, or will he too bow to Arab pressure.


3 thoughts on “Tillerson and Jerusalem

  1. Dear Jack:

    I gave this a couple of days prior to answering, since if there is one thing I have learned about life in WDC — and as I am sure you remember having lived here for many years — the first twigs of a story line are usually long on opinion and conjecture, and short on facts.

    The initial reports from about a week ago (and really for the last three-plus months), reported that Rex Tillerson was either leaving his position as U.S. Secretary of State or about to be fired. Yes, there have been disagreements between the President and the Secretary of State. This is not news! (When you have a moment of three, read up on Richard Nixon and William Rogers; Nixon and Kissinger (their relationship was almost diabolical!); Carter and Cyrus Vance, and for that matter, most of his cabinet (!); and a host of other relationships between U.S. Presidents and Secretaries of State, before Nixon and after Carter.)

    Never mind that President Trump and Sec. Tillerson both deny this… never mind that no one is willing to go “on the record”… there have been ‘leaks’ from the ‘senior sources’ at the White House that report that Tillerson is about to be canned. Tillerson may or may not have made this decision, but it is not public yet, and the rumors are only just that – rumors.

    Usually your pieces are well-researched and considered. I may not agree with your theses, but I know you have done your homework. Thus I am amazed at the shoddiness with which you nail Tillerson’s coffin shut. No one else has done this.

    As for the U.S. Embassy issue, it really doesn’t matter what they put as a sign on the various buildings, everyone know the Israeli capital is Jerusalem, and it is only a matter of time until someone changes the paint on the signs. The Palestinian Auth. may hue and cry about it, everyone knows these are “Crocodile tears” – not worth the Kleenex they are dripped on. A few Israelis with whom I have spoken (admittedly not a scientific sampling…) see this as a non-issue. A wasteful distraction from the bigger issues at hand.

    ~ R


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