Opinion: Trump's orbit shift, this year in Jerusalem
Israel considers the ancient city of Jerusalem its capital; its parliament, the Knesset, is situated there, all official business is conducted in the city holy to three of the world's oldest faiths. Photograph: (AFP)
I never thought I'd be saying this, but Donald Trump, for once, is making sense. "We cannot solve problems by making the same failed assumptions. Old problems need new solutions", he said. It was a pleasant change to see him sticking to the script. (It's time the world recognised the virtues of the teleprompter too!) Low on his trademark garbled rhetoric, more coherent. He declared his commitment to achieving peace, announcing the shift of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognised the latter as the capital of Israel.
Bad in law, unjust to the Palestinians, unfair on the part of a mediator, a blow to decades of US foreign policy, diplomatic arson, the kiss of death for peace - the naysayers have spared no effort in crafting the choicest expressions of criticism. And yet, the move makes sense.
Did anyone have illusions about where the American loyalties lay in this conflict? Others pretended to be fair, Trump wore his bias on his sleeve.
Did the so-called peace process make any tangible progress when America stuck to the previous strategy of maintaining a precarious balance? Previous Presidents failed. There's nothing to suggest that Trump's advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner's efforts and visits had made any headway.
Will the Arab world and America's European allies do anything beyond the token protests? The EU is mulling pushing for the Palestinian capital in Jerusalem. Only, Jerusalem is under Israeli control and under the current circumstances, the idea is impractical.
The Arab League is meeting on Saturday, but it's going through the motions. The Sunni states, led by Saudi Arabia see Israel as a potential partner, no more a pariah, as they prepare to deal with the perceived threat from Iran. There are elements who care about the "Palestinian cause" but no Arab ally of Ramallah has offered more than lip service for a while now.
Protests have begun, there's a call for another intifada or uprising by Hamas leader Ismail Haniya. But can the decision of one sovereign nation to recognise the right of another sovereign nation to determine its capital be held hostage to threats of protests?
To Trump's credit, he has made good on an election promise that most of his predecessors broke. Yes, he undermines America's stature as a peace broker. Yes, it's a gamble. But it's a better bet than seven decades of a bloody status quo which, by the way, is also a misnomer. The American President promised an unconventional approach to policymaking and governance. He's doing it. Shifting the orbit. Jolting a system. If the gambit doesn't pay off, you cannot accuse him of not having tried.
(Disclaimer: The author writes here in a personal capacity).