Don’t be fooled by the muted reaction to Trump’s Jerusalem gambit

I’d love to believe Trump’s Jerusalem gambit was tethered to a broader peace process informed by Jared Kushner’s closely held conversations with Arabs and Israelis. Maybe recognizing Jerusalem was part of the Kushner strategy to keep Benjamin Netanyahu sweet with ample amounts of honey so that later during the actual negotiations, Trump could apply the vinegar and press him for concessions to the Palestinians. After all, what Israeli prime minister could say no to Trump after the Jerusalem give-away? Or perhaps Kushner had gotten a commitment from his buddy, the Saudi crown prince, that the Saudis and others were now willing to accept a united Jerusalem under Israeli control with only a symbolic Palestinian capital in Abu Dis and/or on a tiny part of east Jerusalem.

All of this strains credulity to the breaking point. These aren’t elements of a real strategy as much as they are a collection of misplaced hopes. Netanyahu won’t pay for something he believes Israel’s owed for free; and the Arabs won’t so easily change their tune on the third-holiest city in Islam, let alone the city’s most contentious site, the Haram al-Sharif or Temple Mount—certainly not without major concessions from Israel and the U.S., and more likely not at all.

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