Christopher Dickey writes: In 1995 [when the Jerusalem Embassy Act was passed], the Palestine issue and the future of Israel were at the very center of the Mideast miasma. The occupation of Palestinian territory was the festering wound from which much of the regional stink seemed to emanate. But 9/11 sidelined the Palestinians, their problems—and their aspirations—making their complaint just one element in the epochal battle being pushed by Osama bin Laden and his jihadist acolytes. The Palestinians were fighting for a homeland. Bin Laden was pushing for Armageddon.
After the Bush administration was foolish enough to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq, the latter with massive cheerleading from neocons who thought the Iraq invasion would help the cause of Israel, the injustice that attached to Israel’s own occupation of the West Bank was attenuated once again. It came to seem a limited problem, not an all-consuming one like, say, the disintegration and carnage that has swept the Fertile Crescent since 2003.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu has been able to take Israel into a holding pattern on the bet he could build walls and special access roads, maintain security, and wear down the Palestinians to the point where they would have no ability to affect the lives of most Israelis, even those living in the territories. His old enemy Syria has self-destructed. Egypt and Jordan are willing to play along with him. Only Iran presents a real threat to Israel’s security, but Trump—and the Saudis—are likely to back Bibi’s play should he decide be has to make a move against Teheran.
Again, the Palestinians lose out.
So, after three decades covering “the peace process”—and having learned early on that it was all about process, and only very rarely even remotely about peace—my sense is that Trump’s Jerusalem speech is more nuanced than one might have expected, but also naïve. It is, yes, a milestone, but not a game changer. In fact, the game changed long ago. [Continue reading…]