Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Editorials

Another voice: Trump’s risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Palestinian statehood would change that. Political leaders and diplomats from around the world already visit government offices there, even if their embassies remain in Tel Aviv. As Trump put it, for the United States finally to accept that the Jewish state has its capital in Jerusalem is "nothing more or less than a recognition of reality."

At the same time, Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama had good reasons for holding back on such a move, even though they, like Trump, had promised while on the campaign trail to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. They calculated that what amounted to a mostly symbolic step could undermine U.S. policy across the Middle East as well as their hopes of brokering an Israeli-Palestinian settlement ó and possibly trigger violence, including against Americans.

Trump cast himself as setting aside failed conventional wisdom ó he pointed out there has been no peace deal ó and of offering a fresh approach. Thatís a stance that may play well with his domestic political base and with many Israelis. But Trump is implicitly betting that previous presidents were wrong to worry about blowback in the Middle East and beyond. Thatís a big risk to take for the scoring of political points.

So far, the presidentís decision has been rejected by every major U.S. ally in Europe and the Middle East, including Britain, France, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It will put considerable pressure on Jordan, Israelís fragile neighbor, whose King Abdullah II sees himself as a protector of Jerusalemís holy Muslim sites. It will probably make it harder to promote a tacit alliance between Israel and Sunni Arab states against Iran, as Tehran will surely exploit the Jerusalem issue. It will also virtually ensure that Palestinian leaders respond unfavorably to the peace initiative the Trump administration says it is preparing. If violence erupts in Jerusalem or elsewhere in the Middle East ó and extremists will do their best to make that happen ó Trump will be blamed.

Trump made some effort to mitigate such damage. He said his administration was "not taking a position (on) any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem," words that leave room for an eventual settlement in which a Palestinian state would have its capital on Jerusalemís eastern side. He did not refer to the "united Jerusalem" promoted by Israeli leaders, who aspire to maintain permanent control over neighborhoods where some 300,000 Palestinians live. He called for maintenance of the status quo at the cityís holy sites, including Muslim holy places that are currently controlled by Muslim authorities.

Nevertheless, those caveats had the ring of boilerplate inserted by the presidentís advisers. The heart of Trumpís speech was his boast that "while previous presidents Ö failed to deliver" on their campaign promises about Jerusalem, "I am delivering." Those who genuinely hope for peace in the Middle East can only hope that this preening display will, as the president predicted, produce positive rather than negative results.

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Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

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Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

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Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

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Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

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Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

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Published: 12/06/17
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Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Voters in Temple Terrace, Plant City and Thonotosassa have an easy choice in the Dec. 19 special election to replace state Rep. Dan Raulerson, who resigned for health reasons. Republican Lawrence McClure is the only credible candidate.McClure, 30, ow...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17