After the UN General Assembly this week, we have to wonder—what are President Trump’s intentions with Israel?
The Trump Administration, for the most part, has been inconsistent. Although the administration has improved the economy and other aspects of government and life in the United States, President Donald Trump himself is a wildcard, and one tweet can change everything.
However, there is one part of his presidency that has remained consistent—his ongoing support of Israel. It began during his 2016 campaign when he continuously advertised his positive endorsement of the country and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Once elected, he swiftly moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as he promised, and ceased support of the Palestinians, sparking outrage from left-wing activists.
This week, during the United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, President Trump defended Israel against countries like Iran and met with Netanyahu, who praised Trump’s leadership from Netanyahu. It was all planned and consistent, what everyone expected. At least, until it wasn’t.
During his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump suddenly approved a two-state solution, stating it may be the best solution between Israel and the Palestinians. Netanyahu agreed with President Trump’s policy and endorsed him for his efforts to protect Israel. Not only is this the first time in Trump’s presidency where he recommended the two-state relationship, but this also may be the first time President Trump is sending his administration on a less Republican path. May I dare say a more liberal path.
Even though Mr. Trump is certainly far from a conventional conservative and Republican candidate, he left his party in the lurch today with his contradictory statement. Now, he has even gained the support of the left-wing groups which have always rallied against President Trump and his “racist” and “sexist” policies and tweets. At least, until now. Rather, the commander in chief has taken the same side as former leaders, Barack Obama or Bill Clinton, in the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma—the first time in his entire term so far where his actions have correlated with those of a more democratic and liberal politician.
He stated that his decision was to maintain a “fair deal” with Israel after the moving of the embassy in Jerusalem, as mentioned during his meeting with the Prime Minister. Although, another potential reason for this shocking and inconsistent decision is to satisfy the UN, especially after their condemning of President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the previous year. Nonetheless, after his recent statements and his intention of removing the US from the UN, in addition to his speech during which he became the laughing stock of the assembly just hours before his meeting with Netanyahu, his ambition to please the UN is, of course, consistently inconsistent.
And, even worse, he is bringing Netanyahu along with him for the ride. Since the moving of the embassy, Netanyahu has been glued to President Trump’s side and agrees with any tweet and statement he makes. But that is very dangerous, especially for Israel. Just like President Trump, Netanyahu needs to recognize when to put Israel first and stand up for his nation. He needs to close the deal. The Prime Minister has reliably executed this in the past, but he seems to lack the necessary word, “no,” around the presence of President Trump.
This is more important now than it ever before. Not because President Trump is becoming inconsistent (well, that too), but because he is becoming indifferent towards Israel and showing off his “America First” policy, a major selling point for him during the 2016 election. After the meeting, he explicitly stated that he doesn’t care if the solution is a two state or one state solution. He is fine with “whatever makes them happy.”
Furthermore, he did not discuss the parameters of the situation or how, if, at all, the United States or the UN would be enforcing this so-called two-state solution. And yet, this is who Netanyahu consistently refers to as the savior of Israel, an America-first politician who couldn’t care less about the outside world. Soon, that outside world will include Israel. So why are we, or Prime Minister Netanyahu more specifically, still following President Trump to the ends of the earth and back?
However, despite President Trump’s outrageous commemoration of the two-state solution, he hasn’t completely alienated Israel. With the exception of this meeting, he has never put down Israel or Prime Minister Netanyahu. He has helped to negotiate the tensions between Russia and Israel and did move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And in the end, he is one of the first presidents that does not see the Israeli Defense Forces as just another military, rather, he sees it for what it really is, a special army solely to protect the state of Israel and the Jewish people across the world.
Although, this is unfortunately still not enough to ally with Israel with the fullest. If President Trump really wanted peace, he would negotiate the perimeters of the solution and address the overlapping paradigms. After all, before this meeting, it was believed that President Trump would refuse to acknowledge Palestinian territory on Israeli soil. Of course, just like everything else, that has frequently changed, especially with the outcome of their meeting.
If there is one skill President Donald Trump excels at, it’s certainly closing a deal. He has the ability to negotiate well and get what he wants in the long run, which could include striking a deal with Netanyahu for Israel. This strategy has always been a consistent one of his. At least, for now.
Jeremy Bernstein is a junior at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School in Great Neck, NY. He is a Staff Writer for Fresh Ink for Teens.