Donald Trump just kicked a hornet's nest in the Middle East

The president says he's committed to keeping the peace, but his actions just proved otherwise

By Matthew Rozsa

Published December 6, 2017 2:21PM (EST)

 (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump's decision to move America's Israeli embassy to Jerusalem is being met with outrage throughout the world.

Protesters marched in opposition to it in Palestinian territories, while Jerusalem's Christian leaders warned that moving the embassy "will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land."

It's not that the president didn't have warning from American allies in the region.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Monday that crossing the "red line" of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital could result in Turkey "cutting diplomatic ties with Israel," while Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi said that the move "would undermine the chances of peace in the Middle East."

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Khalid bin Salman, told CNN in a statement, "Any announcement prior to a final settlement would have a detrimental impact on the peace process and would heighten tensions in the region."

In a speech prepared for delivery by Trump, the president characterized his decision as one that made him superior to other recent presidents who had not made such a move.

"While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver," Trump said. "Today, I am delivering."

And in a statement, the White House downplayed the likelihood of the decision, ramping up criticisms.

"President Trump recognizes that the status of Jerusalem is a highly sensitive issue, but he does not think the peace process is aided by ignoring the simple truth that Jerusalem is home to Israel’s legislature, supreme court, president, and prime minister," the White House said.

But one country was pleased by the decision.

Speaking ahead of Trump's anticipated announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel's "historical and national identity is receiving important expressions every day, but especially today." Netanyahu did not mention Trump by name and didn't mention Trump's decision in his first public comments on the subject after the announcement was made.

This is consistent with reports that Netanyahu ordered his ministers to remain silent about Trump's decision regarding Jerusalem.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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