Donald Trump’s presidency has meant some controversial changes in policy here in the United States, but some of those decisions are also having an impact on regions thousands of miles away.
On Monday, the administration announced that it was finally closing its consulate in Jerusalem, and combining those consulate services into the new U.S. Embassy in the same city.
That may seem like a small thing, but it has already resulted in a significant shakeup in the relationship between the U.S. and the Palestinians — and possibly a calculated message from the White House to its domestic opponents.
“For decades, the consulate functioned as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians,” The Associated Press explained. “Now, that outreach will be handled by a Palestinian Affairs Unit, under the command of the embassy.”
According to CNN, the move “leaves the US as the only major world power without a diplomatic mission to the Palestinians.”
Although that change had been planned for several months, it seemed to come about abruptly.
“The announcement from the State Department came early Monday in Jerusalem, the merger effective that day,” the AP reported.
When the closure of the consulate was announced in October, “the move infuriated Palestinians, fueling their suspicions that the U.S. was recognizing Israeli control over east Jerusalem and the West Bank, territories that Palestinians seek for a future state,” the AP reported.
There might have been a message being sent on the domestic American political front, too, since the move on Monday came at a time when questions about Palestinian and Israeli relations are even more sensitive than usual.
The same day the consulate closure angered Palestinians, liberals in the U.S. were scrambling to do political damage control after a Muslim-American lawmaker known for her anti-Israel views once again found herself in hot water.
“Leading House Democrats will offer a resolution Wednesday condemning anti-Semitism in response to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s latest remarks on Israel,” pointed out the AP in a separate report.
Omar is the Minnesota liberal who has faced a series of controversies after she implied that Israel — one of the United States’ closest allies — was “evil,” and appeared to repeat anti-Semitic stereotypes about the Jewish people.
Even her own party is distancing itself from Omar, drafting a symbolic resolution to scold the outspoken promoter of Palestine.
“It’s at least the third time the Minnesota Democrat’s words have put her colleagues in a more delicate spot than usual on the U.S.-Israel relationship, and the second time in two months that she’s drawn a stern backlash from party leaders,” said the AP.
That is where the Trump administration’s announcement that the de-facto embassy in Palestine was closing for good could be significant. It sends a firm message to Omar and other Palestinian apologists: America stands with Israel.
Trump is known for his strong negotiating tactics, which he recently put on display by canceling Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s military-sponsored international trip in order to put pressure on Democrats during the government shutdown.
And the same day that the administration ordered the consulate closed, the president lambasted Omar on social media.
Representative Ilhan Omar is again under fire for her terrible comments concerning Israel. Jewish groups have just sent a petition to Speaker Pelosi asking her to remove Omar from Foreign Relations Committee. A dark day for Israel!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 5, 2019
Even if the final closure of the consulate had been in the works for months, could Monday’s abrupt move have been yet another “power play” by Trump to squeeze Pelosi and the rest of the liberal leadership into speaking out against Omar and going on the record to support our allies in Israel?
It would definitely be his style.
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