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Trump trumps himself

Dec 20,2017 - Last updated at Dec 20,2017

Donald Trump has been trumped over his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in breach of a 70-year-old commitment to refrain from doing so.  On Monday, his UN ambassador Nikki Haley was compelled to veto a UN Security Council resolution calling upon him to rescind his action on Jerusalem and that evening Vice President Mike Pence was obliged to cancel his visit to the Holy Land and Egypt following protests and boycotts by Christian and Muslim figures and Palestinian officials.  

In what amounted to a slap in the face of Trump and Pence, Egypt circulated the offending resolution among the council members. This resolution read: “Any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the holy city of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded.” The draft called on all countries not to open embassies in Jerusalem and demanded UN member-states do not recognise actions contrary to UN resolutions on the status of the city. While the US exercised its veto, the 14 other council members — including US allies Britain, France, Italy and Japan — voted in favour, leaving the US isolated and exposed to criticism.

The resolution and cancellation coincided with an emergency meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah of the Palestinian leadership under the chairmanship of President Mahmoud Abbas who reiterated Palestinian rejection of the US as a mediator in the moribund Palestinian-Israeli peace process which Trump had hoped to revive and said Palestinians continued to reject contacts with the Trump administration.  

Palestinians will submit the failed council resolution to the General Assembly under the “Uniting for Peace” procedure which overrides Security Council lack of unanimity among the five permanent members. Palestinians expect a solid majority to vote in favour of the resolution.  

Abbas vowed to return to the UN to apply for full membership of the state of Palestine and said the Palestinians would take “legal, political and diplomatic actions against Trump’s announcement [on] Jerusalem”.  He also signed 22 agreements and international treaties to boost the legal status of the state of Palestine on the internationalscene.    

Trump had counted upon Abbas to buy into his “deal of the century”, an agreement being cobbled together by Trump’s “Middle East peace” team headed by his son-in-law Jared Kushner that includes Jason Greenblatt, and David Friedman. During an interview at the annual Saban Forum, Israeli billionaire and head of the forum, castigated the Trump administration’s approach to peacemaking in this region. Saban stated: “On the team you have you, an entrepreneur, a real estate lawyer and a bankruptcy lawyer, there is no Middle East [expert] in this group… how do you operate with people who basically — you know, with all due respect, are a bunch of Orthodox Jews who have no idea about anything?  What are you guys doing? Seriously, I don’t understand this.” All three of these men support Israeli colonisation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, an enterprise which has made it impossible for a viable Palestinian state to emerge. 

Two days after Trump made his statement on Jerusalem, the only person on the team who has knowledge of regional politics, Egypt-born Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser, resigned and announced her intention of leaving the White House early next year.

Although it is said she will stay on the Kushner team, replacements are being considered.  Trump’s Jerusalem announcement on December 6 could not have come at a worse time.  The date itself was inauspicious at it was St Nicholas Day, celebrated by churches in the region as the name date of the 4th century Asia Minor bishop whose legendary graciousness and generosity has made him the spirit of Christmas.  Indeed, he is the personification of Father Christmas or Santa Claus.  

Trump’s eye was not on Christmas, Christians or Muslims, when he decided to shift US policy on Jerusalem in violation of the November 29th, 1947, UN resolution providing for the partition of Palestine into three parts: a Jewish state, a Palestinian state, and a UN-administered corpus separatum consisting of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.  Neither state was to declare this enclave its capital.

Trump’s eye was on the party marking the Jewish feast of Hanukka he was throwing at the White House the next night. It did not matter to Trump that Hanukka fell on December 12, the celebration had to fit into his and perhaps some of his invitees’ schedules.  The party was non-traditional as he did not include Democrats or conservative or reform or liberal Jews on this guest list.  Most Jews who attended were from the Orthodox community, like Trump’s son-in-law Jered Kushner and his family: 54 per cent of Orthodox Jews voted for Trump in last year’s election. 

Former president Barack Obama invited 1,700 guests, dividing them between two parties; Trump invited only 300 to a single reception. He, naturally, trumpeted the party as a celebration of his Jerusalem edit. He was eager to be lionised.  “Well, I know for a fact that there are a lot of happy people in this room — Jerusalem.” The Trump family did not interact with most of the guests. 

After Trump’s party ended, guests shifted to the Trump International Hotel for a second reception held by the Shedon Adelson  sponsored  Republican Jewish Coalition. Adleson, a casino billionaire, donated $20 million to the Trump election campaign and $1.5 million to the Republican Party’s national convention.  

In a bid to show that all US Jews do not agree with Trump or his agenda, several dozen held a protest party on a terrace on the fifth floor of Trump Tower — a location classified as a public park. The party — more protest than Hanukka — was small and low key. Those who attended object to his racist attitudes towards black, Hispanic and Muslim minorities in the US, reversal of liberal domestic legislation on healthcare, and rejection of the Paris climate change accord and multilateral trade accords.  

 

Trump does not listen to these people, only those who praise and fawn over him.

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